The Center for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries, better known as CBI, is an agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands. Preoccupied with important current issues such as sustainability in developing countries, whilst stressing their market development, CBI released a guideline on market trends for coffee, tea and cocoa. Sustainability and growing awareness of natural resources are to be highly considered when penetrating the EU market. In order to conquer the selective European consumer, getting informed is crucial. The CBI document points out a series of social market drivers for the coffee, tea and cocoa sectors that are to be taken into consideration.
“Increasing awareness of health benefits” is the first one mentioned by the guideline. European consumers, both those in the old EU members and in the new emerging countries, have demands in terms of the way certain products influence their health. Therefore a potential product should emphasize such issue, well documenting beneficial claims to their health. The document exemplifies potential problems, like the issues concerning cadmium levels in chocolate and cocoa. Much to the dismay of several exporters of cocoa such as Cameroon, Colombia, Ecuador, Ghana or Mexico, the EU wants strict requirements referring to maximum levels of cadmium in cocoa. The potential product should emphasize the different benefits it might present, that being a competitive advantage. The CBI document also underlines changes in the European consumer preferences and buying pattern. EU consumers want “cheaper mainstream coffee, tea and cocoa in large volumes”. The demand for “products with a story” is rising as well.
This means that consumers want to know more about the origin of the product and how it was handled. Exporters must take into consideration the fact that the increasingly responsible European market is segmented. The third social market driver mentioned is the “increasing demand for quality products”. Potential exporters should keep in mind, for example, that “origin and altitude for coffee are important factors that determine the quality of the products”. New products, flavored coffees are potential market breakers. Last, but not least, the potential exporter should “invest in productivity and sustainability”.
The document foresees productivity growth in the cocoa sector and is optimistic about the development of the tea and coffee business. The conclusion is that “exporters can play an active role in sustaining and increasing farmers productivity.”
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