No 7

China, an Interesting Growing Market for Coffee

May, 2012

What's Happening

China, an Interesting Growing Market for Coffee

Shortly after the 30th anniversary of the economic reforms implementation led by Deng Xiao Ping, China has emerged as one the world’s major economies. 


At the end of 2009 its GDP surpassed that of Germany, becoming the third largest economy in the world after the United States and Japan, and it is expected that by 2050 the economy of this Asian giant will surpass the United States.

Coffee demand in China has increased dramatically, although volumes are still small compared to the potential. Despite being known as the nation of tea, one might expect that, like England, China’s population will become one of the largest importers of coffee in the world. Currently it imports coffee from Brazil, Colombia, Kenya and Vietnam among others.

The growth of coffee consumption in big cities and more developed areas of the coast are rising. The Chinese market grew by 100% between 2001 and 2006 and a 7.8% category compound growth is expected between 2011 and 2016, according to Euromonitor forecasts (Figure 1).

  Figure 1. Growth Forecast of Coffee category in China (2011 – 2016)

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While their preference still for tea, coffee latte is gaining popularity among younger consumers. Similarly there is a moderate shift in preference from soluble coffee to fresh roasted coffee. Figure 2 shows the value imports of type of product.

Figure 2.  Share of Value imports of type of coffee 2009 (US$’000)  

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The income increase and quality of life improvement, the urbanization and the acceptance of Western culture by young consumers, as well as the lifting of restrictions on retail practices are some of the reasons behind China´s market growth. This country has experienced the opening new coffee shops and has attracted not only large western chains like Starbucks, which entered in 1998 and currently has over 450 shops,  but also smaller establishments such as Horst Coffee, current member of the 100% Program (please refer to the article 100% Noteworthy in this issue).

Thus, today there are more and more Chinese baristas interested in coffee. Because of this the Federation began in 2011 to offer Chinese cupper courses in Colombia in order to forge a close and lasting relationships with local industry players, so that in the future the Café de Colombia will remain as a major origin in this growing market.

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You are invited to learn more about our coffee family and our products, visiting the COLOMBIAN COFFEE INSIDER sections on the top of this page.