Growing demand for Australian coffee in Asia

Growing demand for Australian coffee in Asia article image

In the past 18 months interest in Australian coffee has been brewing strongly in Asia, says a leading local producer.  

Skybury Tropical Plantation director Ian MacLaughlin says like other horticulture exports, Australia's ability to produce a clean product with environmentally sustainable practices has helped draw overseas interest.  

"Australian-produced goods have been flagged as better quality and have a cleaner, greener image," Mr MacLaughlin said.  

Based at Mareeba in North Queensland, Skybury Coffee expects to produce about 50 tonnes of its premier single origin Arabica coffee this season.  

Harvesting is under way – and it won't be Aussie coffee drinkers who will consume most of the crop.  

Mr MacLaughlin says most of the coffee will be exported, bound for key markets in Europe and Asia.  

"The consumption in Europe varies very little from year to year and they are by large the largest consumers of Australian-grown coffee," Mr MacLaughlin said.

But the Asian market is growing rapidly, he says, particularly in Singapore. 


Dynamic growth  

The hot drinks market in Asia has traditionally been dominated by tea consumption rather than coffee.  

However, in recent years the Asian coffee market has increasingly become the focus of the world coffee industry.  

Since 1990, Asia has experienced the most dynamic growth in coffee consumption in the world, growing by an average rate of 4 percent a year.  

Since 2000 the rate has increased by an average 4.9 percent a year.  

It’s no surprise that the region is of increasing interest to the coffee sector – both for producers and consumers – and represents a significant potential market.  

In the past 6 to 8 years the number of cafés in countries across Asia, namely in Singapore, China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam has grown substantially. 

Consumption on the rise  

According to Roy Morgan Research, coffee consumption by Australian adults has declined slowly but steadily, from 10.5 cups to 9.2 cups a week in the past decade. 

Within that, cafe visits and ownership of coffee-making machines is on the rise.  

The research suggests the proportion of Australians aged 18 years and over who went to a cafe for coffee or tea in an average three-month period grew gradually from 54 per cent in the year to December 2009 to 56pc in the year to December 2013.  

The number of people who own coffee makers has risen sharply from 28pc in 2009 to 36pc in 2013, and Australia's domestic consumption of locally grown coffee appears to be rising.  

"We have certainly seen a shift in recent years with greater interest in coffee grown here at home," Mr MacLaughlin said.  

Despite the late start to the wet season in north Queensland, which has caused havoc in other coffee-growing countries such as Brazil, Skybury had managed to keep its normal production levels on par with previous years' harvests.  

"The late wet season has certainly had an effect in Brazil, with production down around 20pc, he said.  

"As a result of this, world prices have risen accordingly."  


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