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An interview with Ricard Gutierrez, director - Colombian Federation (Far East Bureau).

Responding to Japanese brand preference with special beans such as Emerald Mountain and Cristobal

T&C: It is likely that Japan's coffee beans imports for the first half (January to June) of 1991 totaled 146,108 tons, down 11.3% from the same half of last year, including Colombian coffee which decreased by 35% (or 10,000 tons) to 20,221 tons, among others.

Director Gutierrez: That's right. Imports for the first half were not so favorable as expected. Last year, Japan's imports increased, including those from countries other than Colombia, but there also are considerable inventories. Imports of Colombian coffee in 1990 totaled 58,408 tons (about 970,000 bags), up nearly 50% over 1989, but those for 1991 are anticipated to decrease to approximately 800,000--850,000 bags, down about 15-20%.

T&C: How do you comment on Colombia' s extract (EX) and roasted coffee exports?

Gutierrez: As for EX, FNC, Col Cafe, Guavi Cafe and De Cafe are capable of producing about 6,000 tons/year. Most of exports go to Japan, being purchased mainly by Coca Cola Bottlers, UCC Ueshima Coffee and other canned coffee and liquid coffee producers. FNC is exporting/selling their beans to Mitsubishi, Art and UCC. They are exporting roasted coffee with a view to meeting Japanese clients' request. Colombia intends to export, and expand a supply system for EX, roasted coffee and instant coffee, since these products have a higher added value.

T&C: In the field of beans, you seem to be strengthening sales of special beans, such as "Emerald Mountain" and "Cristobal'. Could you explain about the situation?

Gutierezz: The supply of special beans corresponds to Japan's market trends. In Japan, there is a strong preference for brands, such as "Blue Mountain", "Hawaii Kona", "Kilimanjaro" and "Toarco Toraja." Since Japanese consumers make much of brand rather than origin, Colombia is meeting their preference with "Emerald Mountain" and "Cristobal". These special beans are primarily intended for Japan, and by limiting the supply to about 2,000 bags, their scarcity value will be increased.

T&C: Recently, you have begun selling the new type "Varieda Colombia" which, however, does not seems to be favorably accepted by roasters.

Gutierrez: FNC is continuing to improve the bean quality, existing varieties so that they become more resistant to diseases and insects, and also develop new varieties which can withstand decreased fertilizer--i.e. more natural varieties. "Varieda Colombia" was born from these research efforts. These trees, however, occupy only less than 10% of total, and are in no way intended to replace the traditional varities.

T&C: The Japan Coffee Association has recently worked out self control rules for coffee. Kindly comment on them.

Gutierrez: At present, Blue Mountain blend can be sold even when the vlue Mountian content is less than 5%. Accordingly, while only about 3,000 bags of Blue Mountain are imported annually, more than 100,000 bags of blend are actually sold. Under the current control, a blend cannot be crowned with the name of brand used for it, unless it contains more than 30%. If I may point out personally, the figure 30% is very low, and I think any blend should contain at least 70%.

Japan pursues all origins...

Not only looking at Colombia, but also at the Caribbean, Japan continues to press for quality coffees with not only Jamaica's premium beans, but now Puerto Rico. The Japanese have been pursuing the Island's coffee for two years now and have begun importing coffee from the country. Japan is also looking into other Caribbean ports.

The Japanese consumers willingly pay high prices for high quality coffee and the trends recently have been the introduction of more "American" style coffees. The coffee is a blend of beans; this magazine, however, does not know exactly what constitutes an 'American-style' coffee.
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Title Annotation:Colombian Federation of Coffee Growers, Japan's coffee imports
Author:Karasawa, Kazuo
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Article Type:Interview
Date:Oct 1, 1991
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