A convention being held in central Colombia seeks to help regional growers produce higher quality beans and increasing their international exports.
Workshops and discussions administered by the National Federation of Coffee Growers (FNC) and Proexport, a publicly funded publicity firm charged with generating tourism, trade and foreign investment, are being held in in Armenia, the capital of the central state of Quindio, with some 300 growers are reportedly in attendance.
Proexport and the FNC have been formal partners since November 2013 and are hoping to use the conference to train growers in the Coffee Triangle — made up of the states of Quindio, Caldas and Risaralda — to grow higher quality beans and gain access emerging foreign markets.
“There are new markets where Colombian exports are not represented that are demanding the product, such as India, UAE, Taiwan, Turkey, Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Iceland and Uruguay,” explained Proexport President Maria Claudia Lacouture.
The FNC and Proexport are planning to hold similar conferences in 10 more cities with surrounding farmlands deemed to have untapped “coffee growing potential,” according to Caracol Radio.
“We will continue to create specific promotional events to publicize Colombian products and commercial agendas in order to increase the effective identification of buyers,” said Lacouture.
Despite the industry’s international reputation, Colombian coffee has yet to reach its full potential, experts say.
In 2012, the United States market, the world’s largest, grew to $ 7.2 billion, of which Colombia captured only 14.2%, according to Proexport.
In Germany, the main coffee consumer in the European Union, coffee imports surpassed $5 billion in the same year, with Colombian exports representing only 2.8 %.
Anther region Colombian growers have begun to focus on is southeast Asia, where coffee is making cultural inroads into traditional tea-drinking societies.
Earlier this week, Colombia’s Nutresa group signed an agreement with the Mitsubishi Corporation to create the Oriental Coffee Alliance (OCA), which the company’s think will be able to capitalize on this burgeoning trend.
In 2013, Colombian coffee production experienced a surging recovery after a devastating 2012 fungal infection wrecked harvests across the country. With global prices dropping, however, privileging quality over quantity could be a way for small-scale growers to recover from the economic crisis they continue to face.
The Coffee Triangle