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Coffee and Tea Reports from the Front Lines

New Coffee Brand to Boost Farmers’ Income

Addis Ababa - The Ethiopian government launched a new coffee brand with a view to boost income of the nation’s 15 million coffee farmers. The launch is seen as a radical new brand management program intended by the government to champion Ethiopia’s fine coffee export industry. It is the first time that an African nation has undertaken such a contemporary approach to developing its economy through brand management, and begins a new era in Africa’s economic development and independence, according to experts in the international coffee market.

Leading brand specialist, Brandhouse was commissioned to create a distinctive and easy-to-use brand identity system for Ethiopian Fine Coffees and for the three initial trademarked fine coffee brands that will be used wherever these coffees are distributed and sold.

The new brand identity comprises a central logo for Ethiopian Fine Coffee, which takes its inspiration from the coffee bean itself, together with individual designs for each of the coffee designations.

Getachew Mengistie, director general of the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office, said, “This is a landmark moment for Ethiopia. We are proud to be proactively projecting the identity of Ethiopian Fine Coffee in this way. We salute our pioneer licensees who have committed to work with us to build consumer awareness. Their commitment represents an unprecedented level of investment in our brands and we are looking forward to seeing our coffee farmers reap the rewards in the short, medium and long term.”

Country’s Tea Loses Its Flavor in Pakistan

Nairobi - A tactical maneuver by Pakistan into bilateral free trade arrangements with several Asian neighbors is threatening to throw its multi-billion shilling-a-year tea trade with Kenya into a spin. For many years, Pakistan has been the single largest buyer of Kenyan tea but the tea trade between the two nations has been in a slump over the last three years with analysts warning that the trend is likely to carry on.

Statistics obtained from the Tea Board of Kenya (TBK) confirmed the decline, both in value and volume. The trend was evident over the first quarter of 2008 when Kenya tea exports to Pakistan dropped 52%, confirming fears that commodity trade ties between the two countries were getting loose.

Analysts trace the weakening to a decision by Pakistan to enter into Free Trade Area (FTA) pacts with several of its neighbors under the ambit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). A section of members of South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) such as India and Sri Lanka directly rival Kenya in the tea business.

Seeking to take an early ride on the FTA, Pakistan and Sri Lanka struck a deal soon after the pact came into force exchanging preferential market access to each other’s exports by way of tariff concessions. Sri Lanka would be able to enjoy duty free market access on 206 products in the Pakistani market including tea, rubber and coconut. Pakistan, in return, would gain duty free access on 102 products in the Sri Lankan market.

As the new FTA arrangements take shape, Kenya’s traditional tea trade with Pakistan is already feeling the pinch. “We are in negotiations with Rwanda for an FTA because their tea production is improving both in terms of quantity and quality,” revealed Dr. Iqbal. “I believe a similar effort is ongoing with Malawi.”

Ghana Signs Coffee Deal

Accra - Ghana’s High Commissioner to the UK and Ireland, Annan Cato, has signed the 2007 International Coffee Agreement on behalf of the government at the London headquarters of the International Coffee Organization. Witnessing the signing ceremony was Jose Dauster Sette, head of operations of the ICO and Edem Amegashie-Duvon, London manager of Cocoa Marketing Company.

The new International Coffee Agreement, which was adopted by a resolution of the International Coffee Council on September 28, 2007 at its 98th session in London was submitted to the Ghana Cocoa Board as a designated contact for government for submission to Cabinet and Parliament for study and ratification, a statement from the Ghana High Commission in London said.

Ghana first acceded to the International Coffee Agreement on September 9th 1964 and has been a signatory to all the agreements with Ghana Cocoa Board as the implementing agency for the government. The statement said coffee exports in Ghana reached their highest level in 1997/1998 with an export of 10,000 metric tons. Since then, there has been a gradual decline in exports due to the slump in world market prices, poor pricing policy and lack of Government support.

Tea Dregs Can Substitute for Coke

Osaka - A research group from Kinki University, in Osaka, Japan has announced that fuel created from used tea leaves can substitute for coke during iron manufacturing and the casting of iron parts.

Since this new type of fuel is derived from plant matter, burning it results in no net increase of carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, the fuel burns at such a high temperature that iron melts faster in the furnace than with coke. The university group, which conducted experiments in actual furnaces, calculates that fuel using tea leaves can substitute for around 11% of the coke used in furnaces.

McLeod Hopes to Become Debt-free Soon

Kolkata - McLeod Russel India Ltd hopes to become a debt-free company within the next two years, according to Aditya Khaitan, managing director of the company.

Speaking to newspersons after the conclusion of the company’s 10th annual general meeting, Khaitan said this would be achieved through better operational efficiencies and higher sales realizations.

“Tea prices have already gone up by Rs 18 a kg over last year. We expect it to go up further. Higher domestic consumption will drive prices and we expect good returns,” he said. The total secured and unsecured loans of the company stand at Rs 457 crore. Khaitan said the company was hopeful of producing 75 million kg of tea in the current fiscal, up from 74 million kg produced in 2007-08.

Tea & Coffee - September, 2008

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