CHINA attractive market for Philippine coffee

MANILA, Philippines - The People's Republic of China is now turning to be an attractive market for Philippine coffee.

In a September 7 statement of Philexport, the organization of Philippine exporters stressed that an increase in coffee consumption in China makes it attractive to Philippine coffee producers to export their produce there.

Philexport cited the estimate of Chinese industry leader, the National Food Industry Association, that in less than 10 years, or by 2020, each citizen in the mainland are expected to consume a cup of coffee a day or sipping $50 billion-worth of coffee.

To date, Philexport said China's coffee consumption a year has more than doubled to 9 cups of coffee, which is worth $11.1 billion of coffee beans.

Philexport said this is the reason why the ASEAN coffee industry will get a special focus during the 9th CAEXPO in Nanning, China to be held on September 21 to 26.

"There will be buyers, traders and importers from China and other countries during the trade fair," Christine Rodriguez dela Cruz of the Beijing-based Philippine Trade and Investment Centre said.

Reviving the industry

The Philippines remains a small player in the global coffee market due to the difficulties involved in growing it.

It can be noted that the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) said Philippine coffee exports worldwide was only at 144.31 metric tons as of 2001. Philexport said that currently, the country accounts for less than 1% of world supply.

This could increase if the Philippines can export more of the product.

This is the reason why the government has been pushing for the expansion of coffee plantations in provinces where it has been known to thrive.

The state-owned National Agri-Business Corporation (NABCOR) was assigned by the Department of Agriculture to jumpstart this expansion.

The state firm recently put up, in partnership with a farmers’ cooperative, a coffee nursery and plantation at Lake Sebu in South Cotabato.

Philippine coffee

Coffee is suitably growth on hilly terrain where the climate features distinct wet and dry seasons. This makes it one of the best crops to plant in most provinces in the country.

There are 4 coffee varieties grown in the Philippines. These are Arabica, an aromatic variety grown in the Cordillera Administrative Region as well as Robusta, Excelsa and Leberica which is more popularly known as “kapeng barako”.

The cultivation of coffee for domestic consumption and export was introduced by the Spaniards to the country in 1740. At the industry’s peak, coffee ranked fourth largest Philippine export during the Spanish regime.

But, towards the end of 19th century, pests almost wiped out the entire industry.

As of 1995, the Philippines produced only 123,934 tons of coffee, most of which were consumed locally.