Published earlier this month by the International Coffee Organization (ICO), world coffee export figures for the first four months of crop year 2019/20 have confirmed Africa’s good performance in a context of overall volume reduction.
In its latest monthly note, the ICO noted that in the four months from October 2019 to January 2020, cumulative exports of African coffee had increased by 9.5% to 4.38 million 60-kilo bags. At the same time, total world exports (including Robusta and Arabica) had contracted by 5.8%. This overall fall was largely due to the poor performance of the world’s two largest producers, Brazil (-12.7%) and Vietnam (-14.6%), which together accounted for more than half (54%) of world volumes sold. It is not surprising in these circumstances that the regions from which these two heavyweights originate – South America (19.86 million bags exported) and Asia-Oceania (12.21 million bags exported) – also significantly underperformed during the period (-9.8% and -5.4% respectively).
On the other hand, on the African continent, most exporting countries recorded solid results, including Uganda – the largest coffee exporter in Africa, which saw its shipments increase by 10% (1.62 million bags) -, Ethiopia (+18.2% to 1.17 million bags), Côte d’Ivoire (+5.6% to 558,000 bags) and Rwanda (+12.3% to 152,000 bags). The largest increase, however, was recorded in Madagascar (+128.7%), albeit on insignificant volumes (12,000 bags). The only African « false note » was Tanzania’s exports, which fell by 1.6% to 393,000 bags.
Top 10 world coffee producers (2018 data)
In the end, therefore, the African results are rather flattering and are in line with the strong prospects associated with the coffee sector on the continent. In a document dated March 2019, the Inter-African Coffee Organization (IACO) recalled that « Africa is characterized by the emergence of a young and urbanized middle class that has the potential to enhance the potential for increased coffee consumption ». An optimistic prognosis that is already partly translated on the ground, with the growing success of local coffee chains such as Java House in Kenya, Bourbon Coffee in Rwanda, but also Kaldi’s in Ethiopia, Ivory Blue in Côte d’Ivoire, and Cafe Neo in Nigeria.