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July 05, 2010

Joint venture promotes Ugandan coffee in China

by Daniel Karibwije

If the number of tasters and buyers at the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai is anything to go by, Ugandan coffee has a future in China. Value added roasted coffee is on sale and tasting is available for potential buyers.

Uganda Crane Coffee, a joint venture initiative between the Uganda Coffee Development Authority and Beijing North Star Industrial Group has turned faces at the World Expo in Shanghai.

Solomon Rutega, the Uganda's deputy head of mission, said, "The objective is value addition and our promotion efforts are paying off. We want the private sector to get into the Chinese market."

The blend of Uganda's Robusta and Arabica coffee provides a distinct taste. The green beans are shipped from Uganda and roasting is done in Beijing. Records are kept and specifications made to suit different consumer tastes and needs.

The Chinese have a strong tea drinking culture spanning centuries. They prefer their coffee mild.

Uganda Crane Coffee is the first Sino-African coffee project in China that aims at providing market access to value added products from Africa and Uganda as Africa's leading coffee exporter.

in Africa Ethiopia produces more but exports less, consuming 50% of its coffee unlike Uganda which exports over 90%.

The amount of green coffee beans exported from Uganda to China has increased from 40 metric tonnes in April 2002 to 1,000 metric tonnes in 2009.

Overall, the annual exports from Uganda to China have almost doubled in the last five years from $125m in 2005 to $251m in 2009 and the coffee share is growing considering that this figure does not include exports to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau.

"We are expecting 70 million people over the six months period of the expo. This will help build awareness of Ugandan coffee and provide market access to a big market. The Chinese coffee market has been growing at a rate of 15% - 20% per annum," Rutega said.

allafrica.com

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