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Ethiopia seeking a greater share of Asia’s burgeoning coffee market

Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority launches new drive to secure Chinese investment in the East African nation’s coffee industry

54% of Chinese coffee industry leaders surveyed by World Coffee Portal in 2020 indicated China will become a predominantly coffee-drinking nation in the next five years | Photo credit: Jeffery Ho


Ethiopia is seeking a bigger slice of Asia’s growing coffee economy. According to Adugna Debela, Director General of the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority, the East African nation is seeking to increase trade with Asian countries, such as China and South Korea, where coffee consumption continues to grow.

“The Asian market is a very opportune market to expand and sell coffee, particularly China and South Korea,” Debela told China’s Xinhua news outlet.
"We have already invited Chinese investors to work in joint-ventures with our coffee roasters here in Ethiopia. A value-added coffee can be directly exported to China… There is a very enabling environment now in Ethiopia, particularly to invest in coffee,” he added.
As part of its drive to increase overseas investment in Ethiopian coffee, the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority says it has instigated measures to raise the quality of coffee exports, with the initiative already raising the value of Ethiopian coffee from $3,700 per ton to $3,900-$4,000 over the last year. 
Coffee is big business in Ethiopia and provides an income from more than 15 million people across the country, with around 60% of the country’s foreign income coming from the crop. According to the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority, Ethiopia’s coffee exports netted $854.21m in 2020, with the US, Japan, Germany, Belgium, and Saudi Arabia among the top importers.
World Coffee Portal data shows East Asia’s branded coffee shop market has proved remarkably resilient during the Covid-19 pandemic, with 13 out of 17 markets achieving outlet growth during 2020. The three largest markets, South Korea, China, and Japan achieved outlet growth of 8.3%, 2.9%, and 2.3% respectively. 
Highlighting the strong opportunities for international coffee businesses in China, 54% of coffee industry leaders surveyed by World Coffee Portal in 2020 indicated China will become a predominantly coffee-drinking nation over the next five years.

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