No 13

Colombia’s Progresses Against Coffee Rust Favor a Reliable Supply of the Bean

August, 2013

What's Happening

Colombia’s Progresses Against Coffee Rust Favor a Reliable Supply of the Bean

The joint efforts by the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation, the Extension Service and Cenicafe to keep this plague under control, unlike other countries, favor the availability of supply for the market, as acknowledged by the US Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.

The development and growing of coffee varieties resistant to rust, as part of a wide institutional work led by the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) –which includes an ambitious renovation plan-, have not only allowed Colombia to contain the plague that affects other countries, keeping it under control.

These joint efforts by the coffee institutions, which include the technical assistance of the Extension Service and the scientific development of Cenicafe, also allow Colombia – with a growing production in recent months – to be a reliable supplier of Arabica beans for world markets in a moment when coffee rust is affecting the production of other countries.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR), an American company, is leader in specialty coffee and machines for coffee preparation which values these efforts thinking about the quality of supply.

“The global coffee community is aware of these activities and that the approach that Cenicafe and the Federation are taking is very scientific, very thorough, following an appropriate protocol,” said Lindsey Bolger, Vice-president of supply and excellence of coffee at GMCR.

Lindsey Bolger, Vice-president of supply and excellence of coffee at GMCR

“As roasters, we are obviously concerned about the availability of supply, we are very interested in the quality of supply and we appreciate that these new varieties have been developed with an interest in yield, rust-resistance and quality. We are eager to see how we will be provided with Colombian coffee in the current harvest,” she added.

Bolger, who is widely known in the world of coffee for her ability to distinguish the most subtle features of a specialty coffee, visited Armenia, Quindio, for a meeting with key protagonists in the supply chain of GMCR, which gathered producers, cooperatives, exporters and importers, among others.

The interest of the American roaster for the quality of the supply arises in a moment in which the International Coffee Organization (ICO) has warned that the current coffee rust epidemic in Central America, with an incidence of 53%, is the worst one since the plague appeared in the region in 1976, and threatens to reduce production in this area by at least 2.3 million sacks for the 2012-13 harvest-year.

According to statistics by the FNC’s Extension Service, until March 2013 coffee rust barely affected 5% of the coffee crops in Colombia, a number that significantly contrasts with the levels of affectation in Central America.

It is important to remember that Central American countries, after Colombia, are important producers of mild Arabica coffee, in contrast with Robusta beans produced by countries such as Vietnam, Brazil and Indonesia.

The representative of GMCR praised the efforts by the coffee institutions to deal with the threat of coffee rust as visionary and unique, because she had never seen them in other countries. “The efforts that the Federation has done to understand and give the coffee farmers resources to combat rust are extraordinary, actually visionary. The coordinated effort is something I really have not seen in other countries that are trying to combat it,” Bolger said.

“It is a model of how an organization can understand an issue, offer a number of different solutions and give the producers resources. It is a model that could be used to help guide other countries for confronting this challenge,” she added.

The expert also valued the research methodology and scientific developments in Cenicafe, which has allowed the development of coffee varieties resistant to rust. “It is impressive,” she said.

“The world industry of coffee is aware of these activities and that the scientific approach of Cenicafe and the Federation is thorough, and following the appropriate protocols,” Bolger highlighted.

The representative of GMCR, a company that registered sales of almost 3.9 billion dollars in the 2012 fiscal year, also praised the work done by the coffee institutions to position Café de Colombia, which has achieved great recognition around the world.

“Café de Colombia continues to have a very strong brand and brand recognition in the United States and the rest of the world. And while other countries are starting to develop their own brands, Colombia is already far ahead in the game and has achieved a brand recognition in its key markets,” she added.

“It continues to be a sound strategy that ensures that Colombian coffee is top of mind when consumers in the United States and other countries are considering where their coffee is coming from,” Bolger said.

Just as other importers, GMCR recognizes that mildness, quality and consistency of Colombian coffee are important differential attributes. “With the help of Cenicafe and the Federation, there are very clear expectations on the quality of Colombian coffee and recognition that its flavor is varied and expressed differently depending upon where coffee is grown,” she added.

“That is why Colombia is such an important origin for GMCR. It has been one of our top origins in terms of value since our company was created 30 years ago, and it is still a country that we seek for high quality, variety and differentiation, with an accessible organization (FNC) that makes it easier for us to do business,” she highlighted.

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.