How working together helps PNG coffee growers
After a European tour, coffee growers from Papua New Guinea look at new ways of collaborating to boost their exports
Coffee growers in Papua New Guinea are exploring new ways of working together, hoping to tap markets in Europe.
Five coffee farmers in June travelled to the World of Coffee in Milan, where their beans were roasted, brewed and sampled by the world’s top buyers. They then visited Hamburg and London to meet with more merchants and roasters, a unique opportunity organized by the UK Trade Partnerships (UKTP) Programme.
“With limited funds to spend on marketing campaigns, the opportunity to talk with buyers from around the world and for them to taste our coffee, creates trust and brand credibility which is then shared among the industry,” said Patrick Killoran, founder of Banz Kofi.
The UKTP Programme works with a variety of small businesses in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific Islands to improve trade and create more jobs.
Georgina Benson’s Mohone Coffee produces organic Arabica coffee in the highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG). The expo in Milan gave her a chance to meet Jens Janecki, managing director of Bernhard Rothfos, the main European buyer of coffee from Mohone’s region.
After sampling Benson’s coffee, Jens said he was impressed and that the coffee could easily earn a space in the specialty market.
Buyers generally noted the coffee’s clean, fruity and interesting flavour notes – all good selling points.
Large multinational enterprises once dominated PNG’s export business. But reforms to the export licensing regime have opened up opportunities for smaller companies like Mohone Coffee to sell overseas.
However, getting PNG coffee to European and American markets can be challenging. Shipping costs are nine times higher than for African farmers, and four times more than for South American farmers. That makes PNG coffee more expensive than similar beans from other regions.
How to organize farmers for better exports
Michael Waim at Kofi Management Services said he was working on new solutions to that problem. He met with five roasters and seven traders during the visit to Europe. To meet European demand faster, he’s looking at placing stock on consignment in Europe to move stock faster and in smaller quantities.
Finding an agent to keep consignments and consolidating orders could save on shipping costs to make their coffee more competitively priced, the delegates said.
One of the biggest ideas to emerge from the visit came from meeting growers from countries such as Nepal and Laos. They were represented by trade associations, which the PNG industry doesn’t have. The PNG coffee delegates are now discussing how to forming a private sector association to market coffee, improve the supply and quality, and lobby government on investment support.
In addition to attending World of Coffee in Milan, the coffee producers met roasters and importers in Hamburg and London. There buyers emphasised the importance of consistency in supply and quality, and pointed to the benefits of certification, especially in Fairtrade and Organic Soils to document their good farming practices.
In London, the growers met with officials from the UK Department for International Trade. The group shared their experiences from the tour, and spoke of the value of UKTP training on marketing and branding strategies.
About the programme
The UK Trade Partnerships (UKTP) programme works with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to increase exports from SME suppliers to the United Kingdom and the European Union. The UKTP programme is funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is implemented by the International Trade Centre.