Vietnam is now the Number Two world producer of coffee - plenty of Robusta for all and more. Yet roasters claim there’s little if any Robusta in their blends. Well, who is buying it all then - the man in the moon?
We heard some hope down at Sintercafé in Costa Rica. People were confident prices would go up, saying they have been witnessing the beginnings of a climb.
September 11th affected trade show business. While many shows saw reduced attendance, a few were still quite successful. Coffee Fest in Seattle was booming in numbers and the Milan Fair showed excellent products and enthusiasm. Hopefully, time will cure all.
Glenn John, the editor and publisher of our sister publication, Tea & Coffee Asia has a message about our World Cup Asia trade show, which will be held September 2002:
As you may know, World Cup Asia, which was originally supposed to be held in Bangkok, Thailand, has been moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. After endless discussions and meetings with authorities, import agents, and exhibition center personnel, we found that holding a show in Bangkok would be impossible. We could find no lawful scenario for our exhibitors to bring in tea and coffee samples for the exhibition and avoid Thailand’s strict regulations, presumably designed to keep out imported tea and coffee in any form - even if for exhibition purposes only! Each exhibitor would have had to submit each individual sample or product configuration to a time-consuming, paper-wasting, expensive, and possibly unsuccessful process of approvals from the Food & Drug Administration. And then licensing and excessive import duties from the Ministry of Commerce. Among the solutions offered by experts: advise your clients to stuff the samples in their suitcase (“No one checks any, but don’t bring too much!”); have the client’s embassy in Thailand import the samples (thereby giving up their tea and coffee yearly quotas); and then tiptoe the shipments over to the convention hall under cover of night supposedly.
In the end, the process was unacceptable to the international standards of the Tea & Coffee World Cup, so we’re sure you will agree with the move. We’d love to have the show in Thailand, but Thailand is not ready for us...yet. We’ll keep monitoring the situation for changes in government policies towards exhibitions (and tea and coffee!), keeping open the possibility of Thailand for the 2004 Tea & Coffee World Cup Asia. Although we also think Bangalore would be ideal. Or maybe Bali... Then again, Manila. Taipei. Tokyo...don’t forget about Colombo!
Just labeling a product “specialty,” “shade-grown,” or “bird-friendly,” won’t automatically sell our coffee. Ultimately, it’s got to be good coffee. It‘s got to be legitimate coffee.
This year has certainly been a challenge. Looking forward to a better year in 2002.
Editor & Co-Publisher