International Coffee Industry Gears up for SINTERCAFE

November 16, 2007

Expected topics of discussion during this year’s International Coffee Week include Brazil’s massive production and Costa Rica’s entrance into the Chinese market.

The annual gathering – in its 21st year – of coffee producers and buyers from various countries, along with government officials and experts, kicked off yesterday in San José. It will feature panels and lectures on the issues surrounding the business, and all the while Costa Rica will get a chance to show off its product.

More than 400 people and businesses are expected to attend, said Carlos Alfaro, president of the International Coffee Week Association (SINTERCAFE), the organization in charge of the event, at a press conference Monday morning.

Costa Rican coffee production is on an upswing this year after several lackluster seasons, with 2.6 million fanegas (a unit of measure equal to 256 kilograms) expected to be harvested.

However, that’s still 30% lower than seven years ago, and the estimate is not counting possible damage to crops caused by heavy rains these past few months, said Ramón Ulate, president of the board of directors at the National Coffee Institute (ICAFE).

Meanwhile, production in Brazil and Asia has recently skyrocketed, with the South American giant and Vietnam recording their biggest harvests this year, Alfaro said.

Domestically, labor shortage remains a concern. ICAFE still predicts Costa Rica will lack 10,000 temporary workers this season.

Also, officials from ICAFE visited China two months ago to explore possibilities in that country.When asked about cultural differences, officials acknowledged China remains a tea country, but their efforts are focused on young people and executives in large metropolitan areas such as Shanghai who are more likely to drink coffee.

This week “Costa Rica will become the coffee capital of the world,” Alfaro said. The conference ends Sunday.

 

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