Medio ambiente

Russia, China and South Korea driving demand for coffee, says ICO

Bogota, Oct 16 (EFE).- The International Coffee Organization, or ICO, is eyeing the markets of Russia, China and South Korea, where coffee consumption is growing between four and five percent annually, although the extent of this expansion could be influenced by climate change, said ICO Executive Director Roberio Oliveira Silva, who inaugurated the IV Convention of the International Women's Coffee Alliance, underway at Bogota within the framework of the VIII ExpoEspeciales Cafe de Colombia, cons

Oliveira told EFE, conditions are ripe for coffee becoming a habit with people in these countries, who traditionally also consume other hot beverages.

China, South Korea and Russia "are tea-drinkers and that is good because coffee too is a hot beverage and has similarities (with tea) which we should make the most of," he said.

Although the principal buyer countries are the U.S., Germany and Italy, "the emerging markets are the biggest source of growth, the rate of increase being about 4.5 percent annually," added Oliveira.

He expects it to touch six percent, three times higher than the global average of 2.5 percent.

According to ICO data, the current consumption stands at around 150 million coffee bags yearly but the demand in coming years will see sustained growth, reaching 175 million bags in 2025.

However, this rise in demand will require more production, which is under threat from the increasingly negative effects of climate change, as seen in prolonged droughts or more frequent pest attacks such as coffee leaf rust.

"It is expected climate troubles will cause a decline in next year's harvest," asserted Oliveira, referring to climatic phenomena such as El Niño, which in Colombia has led to a significant dip in rainfall and rise in temperatures.

The effects of climate change have been felt by the world's foremost coffee producer and exporter, Brazil, whose official estimates said its produce for the fiscal 2014-15 will be 45.1 million sacks, 8.2 percent below what it was in 2013-14.

According to Oliveira, the expected decrease in next year's coffee supply, coupled with sustained demand, will trigger a great volatility in prices.

Around 20 countries are participating in the coffee expo in Bogota, which ends on Oct. 18.

The four day event will also witness the X Colombian Barista Championship and the V National Championship of Coffee tasters.