Less-de­vel­oped coun­tries seek to cap­i­tal­ize on con­sumer trends

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By ALYWIN CHEW in Shang­hai alywin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Ethiopia, the sec­ond-most pop­u­lous na­tion on the African con­ti­nent, is well-po­si­tioned to cap­i­tal­ize on food and bev­er­age trends in China through the China In­ter­na­tional Im­port Expo in Shang­hai, ac­cord­ing to Ge­tahun Bikora Ageg­nhu, ad­viser to the di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the Ethiopian Cof­fee and Tea Au­thor­ity.

“Cof­fee con­sump­tion in China is grow­ing rapidly. There is just so much po­ten­tial here to tap into,” Ageg­nhu said at the Ethiopia pavil­ion.

“Ev­ery­where around the world, cof­fee shops are us­ing our beans as part of their blends. Ethiopia is the birth­place of cof­fee — we have the best beans in the world.”

Ethiopia is among the dozens of the world’s least-de­vel­oped coun­tries that are at­tend­ing the expo, which of­fered them two free booths each to sup­port their en­try into the Chi­nese mar­ket. The na­tions also got a dis­count on fees to at­tend and on ship­ping their dis­plays to the Na­tional Ex­hi­bi­tion and Con­ven­tion Cen­ter, where the expo is be­ing held.

Tra­di­tion­ally a tea-drink­ing na­tion, China’s ap­petite for cof­fee has been grow­ing in re­cent years. In Shang­hai, cof­fee chain Star­bucks can be found ev­ery few hun­dred me­ters in down­town ar­eas. Spe­cialty cof­fee shops have also been sprout­ing around the city.

Although the av­er­age Chi­nese cof­fee drinker con­sumes just three cups per year com­pared to 363 cups in the US, to­tal con­sump­tion has grown by an av­er­age 16 per­cent an­nu­ally over the past decade, eight times the av­er­age growth of global cof­fee con­sump­tion, ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Cof­fee Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Nearly 86 per­cent of Ethiopia’s cof­fee ex­ports are bound for coun­tries such as Ger­many, Saudi Ara­bia, Bel­gium, South Korea and the US, ac­cord­ing to the coun­try’s cof­fee mar­ket­ing depart­ment.

Ageg­nhu said he hopes the expo will mark China’s join­ing the list.

“We cur­rently don’t ex­port much to the Chi­nese mar­ket. But, hope­fully, China can be­come one of the big­gest im­porters within the next five years. Chi­nese com­pa­nies have in re­cent years be­gun ap­proach­ing us to set up Ethiopian cof­fee shops in China. That’s a good sign,” he said.

Nepal, an­other of the least­de­vel­oped coun­tries at­tend­ing the expo, is sim­i­larly op­ti­mistic that the event will help boost its ex­ports and re­duce its grow­ing trade deficit. On dis­play at the Nepal booth were car­pets, tra­di­tional hand­i­crafts, wool and tea.

“Nepalese tea is grown in a dif­fer­ent cli­mate, so the taste is dif­fer­ent. It’s an al­ter­na­tive for tea lovers who want to try some­thing new. Our re­li­gious hand­i­crafts such as stat­ues of Bud­dha and wool have al­ways been pop­u­lar with Chi­nese con­sumers, too, but we hope this expo can bol­ster ex­ports fur­ther,” said Govinda Acharya, a se­nior of­fi­cer at Nepal’s Min­istry of Com­merce.

“This expo is cer­tainly tak­ing place at the right time, as Nepal has been try­ing to re­duce its trade deficit with China. It has given us the per­fect plat­form to in­crease ex­ports to China,” he said, “and we’re very happy to have this big op­por­tu­nity to come here.”


A staff mem­ber at Ethiopia’s booth serves cof­fee to visi­tors at the China In­ter­na­tional Im­port Expo in Shang­hai on Wed­nes­day.

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