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Coffee and Tea Reports from the Front Lines

Coffee Consumption in India on the Rise

India - Domestic consumption of coffee shows a steady increase, according to a market research study initiated and sponsored by the Coffee Board of India and conducted in association with Mumbai-based Market Probe and Research International. From being a traditional beverage consumed mainly in South India, coffee now has a national presence, consumed in several forms and retail formats.

The findings of the research study, for which the fieldwork was conducted in 2003, have recently been published. The current study builds on an earlier tracking study conducted in 2001, and provides analysis of the domestic consumer market at a crucial phase of evolution.

“The role of the Coffee Board in facilitating the growth of domestic consumption is focused primarily on providing consumer insight to marketers and roasters and potential new comers,” says Lakshmi Venkatachalam, chairperson, Coffee Board.

The current report shows some interesting facets of coffee consumption in India. In 2003, the total coffee consumption was estimated at 70,300 MT, with an urban-rural divide of 70% and 30% respectively.

“The highlight of the current research is consumption patterns in rural South India, profiled for the first time. Other highlights include increasing penetration of filter coffee in the non-traditional markets of North and West India,” says Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, deputy director, (market research) of the Coffee Board.

The research study titled “Coffee Consumption in India 2003” is available in CD format and contains information of great value to the domestic and international coffee industry interested in the Indian market, besides management consultancies, research and advertising agencies interested in the consumption patterns of this beverage in India. The CD, priced at Rs. 500/- (postage/courier extra as applicable), is available from the Market Research Department, Coffee Board, Dr. B R Ambedkar Veedhi, Bangalore - 560 001, India. E-mail: ddmr@coffeeboard.org

Brazil Increases Coffee Plantings

Brazil - A recent study by the Sao Paulo Financial journal, Gazeta Mercantil, reported that the recent valorization in world coffee prices has stimulated an increase in new plantings in Brazil especially in areas favorable to Arabica production.

The movement is confirmed by the sharp increase in demand for seedlings which in some regions is exceeding supply. Historically, the price of seedlings follows green coffee prices and values for a lot of 1000 seedlings has jumped from R$80 in January 2004 to the present cost of R$250, an increase of over 200%.

Many farmers are taking advantage of the market improvement to upgrade their plantings by removing old tired trees for new seedlings which in 2 to 3 years will be in full healthy production.

The increase in coffee prices registering in the New York Futures Market, a valorization of 36.7% over the last 12 months with expectation of a continued up-swing, has also inspired some growers both large and small to increase their planted areas. It is reported that Luiz Suplicy Hafers, ex-President of the Brazilian Rural Society, and a traditional coffee farmer with Fazendas in Parana and Bahia presently consisting of about 2 million trees on 400 hectares, intends to increase his plantings this year by another 5 hectares.

This change in Brazilian coffee plantings is also confirmed by the latest survey released in December by CONAB the National Supply Company. CONAB estimates that the Brazilian coffee park was slightly reduced from 5.4 billion trees in 2004/05 to 5.2 billion trees in 2005/06 (less 3.8%) due erradication and crop switching. However, in the same period new plantings,(trees not in production) increased from 529 million trees in 2004/05 to 612 million trees in 2005/06,an increase of 13.5%.

Luiz Moricochi,a well know Sao Paulo Agronomist, commented: “the moment may be favorable for new plantings but if in the future the investment will be lucrative is another question.”
- Harry C. Jones

Starbucks Unveils Coffee Liqueur

United States - Starbucks recently launched its first alcoholic drink, a coffee liqueur called Starbucks Coffee Liqueur. Made in collaboration with Jim Beam Brands, the liqueur will be sold in restaurants, bars and liquor stores, not in Starbucks’ coffeehouses, reports the Seattle Times. Alcohol content is 20% by volume, or 40 proof. A 750 milliliter bottle will sell for about $23.

Starbucks and Jim Beam, a unit of Fortune Brands, said the launch follows successful test marketing in Denver and Austin, Texas.

Half of Starbucks’ customers drink coffee liqueur and the chain’s customers are nine times more likely than most Americans to drink a coffee liqueur, Starbucks said its research shows.

Study: Coffee Drinkers Have Less Liver Cancer

Japan - Researchers in Japan have discovered some eye-opening news about coffee: It may help prevent the most common type of liver cancer, reports the Globe and Mail.

A study of more than 90,000 Japanese found that people who drank coffee daily or nearly every day had half the liver cancer risk of those who never drank coffee. The protective effect occurred in people who drank one to two cups a day and increased at three to four cups.

Animal studies have suggested a protective association of coffee with liver cancer, so the research team led by Monami Inoue of the National Cancer Centre in Tokyo analyzed a 10-year public-health study to determine coffee use by people diagnosed with liver cancer and people who did not have cancer.

They found the likely occurrence of liver cancer in people who never or almost never drank coffee was 547.2 cases per 100,000 people over 10 years. But for people who drank coffee daily, the risk was 214.6 cases per 100,000, the researchers report in this week’s issue of the U.S. Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

They were unable to compare the effect of regular and decaffeinated coffee, however, because decaf is rarely consumed in Japan.

The caffeine in coffee has been shown in other studies to prompt mental alertness in many drinkers, although it makes some people nervous.

Some studies have suggested that caffeine aggravates symptoms of menopause or intensifies the side effects of some antibiotics. Heavy caffeine use has been linked to miscarriages. But studies have also shown that a skin cream spiked with caffeine lowers the risk of skin cancer in mice.

While the study found a statistically significant relationship between drinking coffee and having less liver cancer, the authors note that it needs to be repeated in other groups.

The reason for the reduction remains unclear. Dr. Inoue’s team noted that coffee contains large amounts of antioxidants, and several animal studies have indicated that those compounds have the potential to inhibit cancer in the liver.

In their study, the team also looked at green tea, which contains different antioxidants; they found no association between drinking the tea and liver cancer rates.

“Other unidentified substances may also be responsible” for the reduction in cancers, they said.

Tea Planter Murder Triggers Exodus

India - Assam’s loss-making tea estates today witnessed an exodus of executives apprehensive of attacks by workers angry over unpaid wages, reports the Telegraph.

Sources said as many 24 executives - all managers and assistant managers - fled their estates in the three Upper Assam districts of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Sivasagar despite additional security personnel being deployed in the tea-producing belts of both the Brahmaputra and Barak valleys.

The trigger for the exodus was the death of garden owner Rupak Gogoi, the son of former Congress minister Jibakanta Gogoi, at Govindapur tea estate of Golaghat district.

Sources said as many as 11 gardens in Dibrugarh district, 5 in Tinsukia and 12 in Sivasagar had defaulted on payment of wages, leading to labor unrest.

The All Assam Tea Tribes Students’ Association blamed managers for the unrest in the gardens. “We condemn the Golaghat incident, but it should also be examined why the laborers were compelled to take such a drastic step,” said Teros Gowala, the general secretary of the association.

Tea & Coffee - April/May, 2005

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