NCA Convention 2024 — Fueling Coffee’s Future

The National Coffee Association (NCA) hosted its annual convention last week (7-9 March) in Nashville, Tennessee. It was the first time the NCA Convention was held in the music-centric city and the association highlighted what Nashville is known for – country music – opening the event with professional dancers line-dancing on the centerstage. Some attendees delighted in the Southern city’s appeal, while others fully embraced the feel and flavour of Nashville donning cowboy boots, hats and attire — while out and about in the city, and even at convention events!

In his opening presentation, NCA president and CEO, Bill Murray, said that the NCA’s purpose is to ‘support the growth of the US coffee market’. This year’s theme, ‘Fueling the Future’ reflects what the NCA believes its purpose is, “working today to shape the future through education, advocacy, and collaboration so that so that the regulations, perceptions, and practices that will govern our future are informed by facts, research, and an accurate understanding of coffee.”

Murray noted that in 2023, the NCA:

  • Adopted a new Strategic Plan, which included updating its bylaws, and creating values to guide the association including collegiality, sustainability, and transparency.
  • Released an updated Economic Impact Report, quantifying the jobs, value, and tax contributions of the coffee sector to the U.S. Economy.
  • Engaged with the US Food and Drug Administration seeking official recognition of coffee as a ‘healthy’ beverage.
  • Released technical resources to support food safety, the cold brew segment, and workplace safety

Through its Economic Impact Report, the NCA revealed that the total economic impact of the coffee industry in the United States in 2022 was USD $343.2 billion – a 52.4% increase from 2015 – with consumers spending nearly $110 billion on coffee in 2022. Murray further shared that the coffee industry is responsible for more than 2.2 million U.S. jobs and generates more than $100 billion in wages.

Part of the NCA’s goal, Murray explained, is to “protect and enhance coffee’s reputation” so the association is working to educate consumers/correct misinformation about coffee and collaborating with the US government to officially declare coffee a ‘healthy beverage’ and allow ‘healthy’ labelling on coffee packaging.

Murray also noted that the NCA is now the leading destination for searches about decaffeinated coffee, and this year, it is developing new consumer-focused content on decaf.

Acknowledging that cold brew coffee represents a still untapped great opportunity, the NCA funded a $170K cold brew challenge study focused on cold brew coffee that is now available.

In January 2023, the USDA published the ‘Strengthening Organic Enforcement’ Rule to strengthen oversight/enforcement. Murray said the NCA will be releasing an organic guideline this May.

The Winter 2024 NCDT Study will be released soon (in April I believe, but I will confirm), but one ‘early reveal’ that will please the coffee industry — findings show that coffee is sustaining at all-time levels, recording its highest percentage in two decades.

I will provide a review of the full convention in our April issue. The 2025 NCA Convention will be held in Houston, Texas, 6-9 March.

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