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The Surprise Consumer-Producers

From the November 2015 issue.

In the mid-1990s economic gains pushed a small group of coffee-producing countries into becoming net importers. This boom is one of the hidden causes behind the expanding deficit in the world supply-demand balance.

More than 90 countries and island nations across the world produce coffee, and for most of their existence as coffee growers they have been included in the group known as exporting countries in international statistics.

But the booming economies of the South-East Asian tigers in the 1990s saw the explosion of coffee and café culture in both Thailand and the Philippines.

Half a world away, in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, different cultural traditions had already fostered a growing domestic consumption of coffee which has seen a rapid surge in recent years of the total local production being directed toward the home market rather than the export market.

The story of how these four coffee producing countries would become net importers is unknown to most in the market, but one that is likely to be repeated in other growing nations.

This will continue to add pressure on the supply available for roasters in importing countries, and none more so than in the top-ranked emerging markets of the South-East Asia and Pacific region, industry officials agree.

“Consumption in East and South-East Asia remains one of the most dynamic and high potential markets for future coffee demand,” the International Coffee Organization wrote in a study published in 2014 that specifically analysed the consumption trends in 16 Asian countries.

“With 31 per cent of the world’s population and 29 per cent of world GDP, the 16 countries in this report currently account for just 14 per cent of world coffee consumption. However, this share is rising, and if current trends continue, the region could potentially consume 28 to 30 million bags of coffee by 2020,” the ICO report says.

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