Interview: Ethiopian coffee exporter eyeing Chinese market

(Xinhua) 11:18, October 29, 2021

ADDIS ABABA, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- Israel Degefa, CEO of Kerchanse Trading Private Limited Company, the largest producer and exporter of coffee in Ethiopia, has been setting his sights on the huge Chinese market.

"From year to year, the volume, quality and education of coffee in Asia is dramatically changing, especially in China, where our main market is located," Degefa told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Kerchanse is producing and exporting diversified types of coffee by operating with 63 washing stations, 56,000 out-growers, and 1,500 hectares of land dedicated to research and developing varieties of coffee.

"When we started 3-4 years ago exporting to China, it was a tea marketplace, not a coffee marketplace, but now it's changing. The cultural shift is bringing a lot of opportunities for coffee-producing countries like us," Degefa said.

Predicting that China will become one of the top five Ethiopian coffee importing countries within the next five years, Degefa is working to introduce his firm's coffee products to as many Chinese customers as possible, including through attending the upcoming China International Import Expo (CIIE).

According to the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority, China was among the top 10 buyers of Ethiopian coffee in July and August.

The fourth China International Import Expo is scheduled for Nov. 5-10 in Shanghai. The event provides a platform for companies around the world to display their products, promote their brands and find more business partners in the world's second-largest economy.

"We have our agent in China. He will attend the expo and show Ethiopian coffee on behalf of us there," said Degefa.

"These kinds of platforms are very helpful. They will create a good relationship between buyers and roasters," he said, adding that the CIIE will also help the Chinese community understand the difference between Ethiopian coffee and other types of coffee.

In addition to the huge amount of personal connection his firm expects to form at CIIE 2021, Degefa pointed out that his firm also expects to showcase the organic and high quality coffee product exported by Kerchanse.

Yohannes Dinegdie, processing and warehousing manager at Kerchanse, said the Chinese market will be key to helping the firm achieve the goal of 55,000 tons of coffee exports during the current Ethiopian Fiscal Year 2021/2022 starting July 8.

"China is a big country, the aim of Kerchanse is to satisfy its customers' needs according to the customer order and preferences," Dinegdie told Xinhua.

Kerchanse is boosting its quality control department to ensure that coffee exports to China meet the taste preference of Chinese customers.

"Most of the time Chinese customers' preference depends upon the food they eat, as they relate it to the food they eat," Bacha Lencha, a senior coffee quality controller at Kerchanse told Xinhua.

"For example, they need anaerobic coffee, which means coffee that has a fruity flavor, so the Chinese market always prefers to consume coffee that has fruity characters," he said.

Lencha said the company's coffee always aim to retain top preference by foreign customers including Chinese ones.

According to the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority, in the previous 2020/2021 fiscal year, Ethiopia earned 906 million U.S. dollars through exports of 248,000 tons of coffee. 

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)


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