Ethiopian Coffees Positioning in Specialty Market Featured

17 Feb 2017
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Addis Ababa  February  17/2017 Positioning the distinctive qualities of Ethiopian coffees in the expanding specialty coffee market is bearing fruits, with two types of fine coffee beans to be enlisted on specialty market.

The Limu and Lekemti coffee beans are close to the finest coffees list of the International Coffee Organization (ICO), according to Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Development and Marketing Authority,

The process to brand the specific types of coffee beans in the specialty market is well underway, Ashenafi Belay, Coffee Quality Inspection and Certification Center, Plan and Information Team Leader with the Authority told ENA.

“We believe that all Ethiopian coffee types are special. The process of branding is well underway to join plenty of coffee beans under ICO and we are expected that two of our fine coffees, Limu and Lekemti, are close to the list”, he assured.
Ethiopia has been implementing a strategy to achieve wider recognition of its coffees types as brands and position them in the specialty market over the past decade or so.

Because of these efforts, three of the country’s distinctive coffees namely, Harrar®, Sidamo® and Yirgacheffee®, had already joined the world’s finest coffees.

Branding Ethiopian Coffee

The Ethiopian economy is dependent on the trade of primary products. Among the country’s tradable goods, coffee generates about 26 percent of Ethiopia’s total export earnings.

Coffee is closely tied to the culture and society of Ethiopia and an estimated 20 million people are directly or indirectly involved in the country’s coffee industry.

Ethiopia enjoys a strong reputation for its coffee heritage which commands a very high retail price in the international market. However, only 5 to 10 percent of the retail price goes back to Ethiopia, while most of the profit is shared by distributors and middlemen in the marketing sector, according to data.

Seeking to narrow down the gap between the retail price and the return to the producers, Ethiopia is working to use intellectual property rights to brand its coffee and maximize returns.

It was with this objective that the Ethiopian Coffee Trademarking and Licensing Initiative was  launched in 2011. The government’s initiative towards trademarking Ethiopia’s fine coffees enables the nation to trademark three of its fine coffees after a long process, so far.

Improving Quality

As Ethiopia exports mainly green coffee, the return the nation gets is not increasing as intended because of price volatility at the global market.

To address this challenge, the nation has been following a direction of increasing volume of export.

But, for Dr. Taye Kufa, Coffee Agronomist Jimma Research Center, increasing export amount is not enough. He emphasized the need to work on the quality of coffee. 

“We should not only focus on increasing volume, we should also think of maintaining dependable quality so that this quality should be linked to specialty market”, he said.
The Authority recognizes the need to focus on quality issues and said it is working to ensure quality of export items.

“We certify exporters for their products before they are shipped of the country. For those who do not meet the standard of the certification, the Authority provides consultancy and capacity building trainings” he indicated.

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