Kenya coffee


Belgium has overtaken America and Germany as Kenya’s biggest coffee export markets for the first time in a decade.

According to the Coffee Directorate under Kenya’s Agriculture and Food Authority, Belgium purchased 8.9 million kilograms, up from 6 million kilograms a year ago. The United States purchased 6.1 million kg, down 30 per cent from 9 million the previous year, reports Business Daily Africa

In the year leading up to June 2021, the European country imported Sh6.5 billion (circa $56m) worth of Kenyan coffee, which was a significant jump from the previous year, pushing it ahead of the United States to become the producer’s largest customer.

By comparison, the United States came in second, purchasing Sh4 billion (circa USD$34.5m)worth of purchases during the review period, while Germany was the third-largest buyer.

While the top five countries remain the same for the two-season, it is important to note that Belgium improved from position three in the previous year to the top position in 2020/21.

Enosh Akuma, the head of the Coffee Directorate

Germany was the leading buyer of Kenyan coffee for a decade until it was dethroned by America in 2018. The States later took the lead for the first time after Kenya aggressively marketed its speciality coffee during the 2018 Specialty Coffee Association of America symposium in Seattle. See graphs below for the export values before and after the symposium.

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But now Belgium, which was always lurking closely behind Germany has taken over as the primary export market for Kenya coffee.

The African country sells the majority of its coffee in the form of green beans. Only 5% of exports are roasted coffee. This level of disparity is an ongoing source of tension between African countries, who feel that they should move away from selling the raw commodity and move up the value chain by doing more of the processing. In practical terms, this may only be achieved as they increase domestic consumption. 

The country also fears that roasters import Kenyan beans to mix with lower-quality beans from elsewhere, which may affect the country’s reputation. Over the next five years, the country hopes to increase the amount of locally roasted coffee by 5 to 10% annually.

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