KENYA – US purchase of Kenyan coffee has shot up 75 per cent to Sh7 billion (US$70 million) in the current financial year, overtaking Germany and Belgium as the top buyer.
Statistics from the Coffee Directorate puts America at the top both in terms of price offered for a kilogramme and quantities bought.
The numbers indicate US bought 8.9 million kilos at Sh47,998 ($466) for a 60 kilo bag.
In 2015/2016 Washington bought 6.1 million kilos at Sh39,552 ($384) for the same quantity.
The move comes barely five months after Kenya put a strong case for its specialty coffee during the coffee symposium in America where the country was given a “portrait status” making it the main focus point at the exhibition.
“The US was the leading market in 2016/2017 coffee sales. Notable improvements were realised soon after April 2017 and sustained to date,” says the directorate.
This is the first time that America has overtaken Germany in the last five years.
In 2016, Germany imported 8.1 million kilogrammes of coffee worth Sh4.3 billion.
America has been buying seven per cent of Kenya’s annual export of 46,000 tonnes, but paying a premium price compared with the previous dominant buyers.
American buyers currently pay Sh500 per kilogramme of coffee compared to Germany’s Sh300 for the same quantity, according to the directorate.
Coffee directorate exhibited Kenya’s specialty coffee in the annual global coffee meeting that brought together key stakeholders in the sector across the world.
The symposium was organised by the Specialty Coffee Association of America in Seattle is one of the largest single-market avenues where coffee producers meet buyers and consumers of the beverage.
Most of Kenya’s coffee is exported as cleaned beans and just five per cent is roasted.
The country thus misses out on the added value from selling roasted and packaged coffee. Roasters buy the Kenyan produce to blend with others.
The country is seeking to raise the amount of coffee that is locally roasted annually by five to 10 per cent over the next five years.
But even as Kenya seeks to expand its market, productivity of coffee per bush has dropped from 10 kilogrammes in 1980s to current two and the government is trying to pull back farmers back into production.