Colombians to export new grades of coffee at discount

Colombian coffee exporters anticipate that newly approved export qualities that will include smaller and chipped grains offered at a discount will help reach demanding but price-sensitive markets in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia.

“Last week in Colombia there was an announcement related to the increase in the portfolio of export qualities,” Carlos Ignacio Rojas, president of the Colombian coffee exporters association Asoexport, told Latin Business Daily on Tuesday.

The new qualities are a result of the recent change in the administration of the country´s national federation of coffee producers with new authorities “that in a short period made changes that we sought for years, which have added flexibility to the qualities of Colombian coffee approved for export," Rojas said.

“This means Colombia will now export qualities that previously could not be shipped abroad and this is good because it will allow countries which previously could not access Colombian coffee to now have it,” he added.

Although the rules and regulations that Colombian producers and exporters will use for the new grades are still under development, the overall quality of the taste of the coffee will not be affected, Rojas said.

“The new qualities will be different," he said. "It will be coffee which will have different characteristics like for example the grains can be smaller and this does not affect the quality of the coffee served in a cup. Or if the grains are chipped, this also should not affect the quality."

The discount has yet to be set, but some analysts estimate that it could be as much as up to 20 cents compared to the Uniform General Quality of grades such as “Supremo” or “Excels,” which now range between $1.40 to $1.50 per pound, priced FOB Cartagena, Buenaventura or Santa Marta.

This change may affect Colombia's importing of coffee as well.

In the 12-month period that ended on Sept. 30, Colombia produced 13.3 million 132-pound bags of coffee and exported 12.2 million, he said.

Colombians import coffee, which is cheaper, for domestic consumption. It comes mainly from Ecuador, which unlike Colombia produces the Robusta grade instead of Arabica, and Peru, which also produces Arabica but at  a more accessible price.

Once the chipped and smaller grain of Colombian-grown qualities are certified for export, Colombia “will be importing coffee from other origins to satisfy domestic consumption,” Rojas said.

The new grades likely will reach countries in Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia as well as Russia and other Latin American countries that have lower income levels compared with traditional export markets for premium Colombian coffee, including the United States, Europe and Japan.

“This adds new markets,” Rojas said. 

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