Difficulties still ahead for coffee sector: insiders
The export of coffee declined in both volume and value last year due to certain difficulties that are forecast to linger on for the time to come, insiders have said.
Nguyen Viet Hai, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Coffee - Cocoa Association (Vicofa), told a meeting in Ho Chi Minh City on January 15 that in the 2019 - 2020 crop, 1.61 million tonnes of the bean was shipped abroad at the average price of 1,740 USD per tonne, bringing home 2.8 billion USD.
The figures respectively fell 5 percent, 0.4 percent, and 5.3 percent from the previous crop.
The export volume of processed coffee (roasted and ground coffee, instant coffee) dropped by over 17 percent to 110,000 tonnes, resulting a fall of 8.7 percent in value to more than 443 million USD, he pointed out.
Hai noted coffee prices remain unstable, leading to a plunge in the purchase of the produce from farmers in the 2020 - 2021 crop. Fresh coffee is currently priced at 6.7 million - 6.9 million VND (about 289 - 298 USD) per tonne and coffee bean, 32 million - 32.5 million VND per tones, which has continued exposing farmers to difficulties.
Vicofa Chairman Luong Van Tu cited experts as forecasting that the coffee market may recover in the time ahead but very slowly because the COVID-19 pandemic remains complicated and many regions around the world have yet to resume tourism activities. Domestic consumption still falls short of expectations as many coffee shops have had to shut down due to the lack of customers.
Meanwhile, coffee production has also endured impact of storms, climate change, ageing trees, he added.
Facing that fact, Vicofa will carry out some programmes to improve the sector’s efficiency, Tu said, elaborating that it will step up coffee re-cultivation, increase support to help businesses capitalise on export chances under the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and boost the export of processed coffee for higher value.
Efforts will also be augmented to stimulate domestic demand to overcome the current trying time, he said.
For his part, Thai Nhu Hiep, Director of the Vinh Hiep Coffee Company, held that Vietnam now has a number of opportunities to expand its presence in major markets like the EU, Japan, and the Republic of Korea thanks to FTAs.
However, he noted, to make use of those chances, the coffee sector needs to standardise farming, harvesting, and processing and ensure quality and food safety meets importers’ requirements.
In the domestic market, specific quality standards are also necessary to differentiate coffee and coffee products added with other farm produce in order to promote fair competition and a true coffee culture, according to Hiep.
Vietnam gained $2.7 billion from shipping an estimated 1.7 million tonnes of coffee abroad in 2020, accounting for over 10 percent of the world’s coffee value and 18 percent of the market share.