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Austria: the economic importance of tea & coffee.

Austria: the economic importance of tea & coffee

Austria's yearly imports of green beans, roasted coffee and coffee extracts total to one million bags (green bean equivalent) which is more than one percent of the whole world crop. Since the end of World War II these imports have been constantly rising.

In 1988 the total imports of coffee ran up to 79,130 tons in the sum of US$ 215 million. The coffee re-exports figured out at 13,560 tons to the value of US$ 45 million.

The larger coffee suppliers in 1988 were Brazil with a share of 42.6 percent of the green coffee imports, followed by Colombia with 7.1 percent, El Salvador with 5.4 percent, Guatemala with 4.6 percent and Honduras with 4.3 percent. But also as suppliers of decaffeinated raw coffee Brazil and Colombia topped all other countries with share of 26.6 percent and 22.5 percent, respectively.

West Germany and Italy had shares of 83.4 percent and 10.9 percent in all imported roasted coffee in 1988.

As to exports, West Germany (61.3%) and the Netherlands (13.1 percent) were the major buyers of green beans from Austria. The main buyer of Austrian roasted coffee was Yugoslavia (with a share of 32.0%) in 1988, closely followed by Poland (31.7%). Further big buyers were Switzerland (12.7%) and Romania (11.5%).

Concerning coffee extracts, Switzerland was the most important supplier and had a share of 60.9 percent of all imports of coffee extracts to Austria. On the side of exports, Bulgaria dominated as the main buyer of Austrian coffee extracts holding a share of 52.0 percent of this article.

The Austrian net imports (i.e. imports minus exports) of 65,570 tons of green beans caused a loss of US$ 170 million in the balance of trade in 1988. While the equivalent to these imports remained nearly the same versus 1987, the amount of coffee being consumed in Austria increased by 6.7 percent.

Looking at the net imports, per capita consumption can be estimated at 8.7 kgs of coffee per year. About 14 litres can be made out of 1.0 kg of green coffee and 16.7 litres out of 1.0 kg roasted coffee, respectively, if coffee is brewed as "strong" as a mocha at a Viennese cafe.

Coffee is the most popular drink of the Austrian people. They consume 122 litres of mocha per head a year or more than three cups a day. That means even for a small country like Austria (7.5 million inhabitants) more than 9.15 billion cups of coffee per annum!

Related to the Austrian average household (consisting of 2-3 persons) the theoretical annual consumption stands at 330 litres of coffee. "Theoretical" -- as the coffee in households is weaker than coffees brewed at coffeehouses (e.g. breakfast coffee). Therefore, the de facto consumption in litres is probably higher.

To compare the Austrian consumption in litres with that one of other countries will not make much sense because coffee is differently brewed from country to country. As is well known, the Austrian people like "strong" coffee. That's why Austria ranks in the top field of the international coffee consuming countries. Only the Scandinavian people drink even more. Unrivalled champions of the world in coffee drinking are the Finnish people who e.g. consume nearly 50 percent more than the Austrian people. That's the reason for a realistic hope for a further enhancement in the Austrian coffee consumption--And the key to success is quality!

In 1900, coffee consumption was only 600 grammes per head a year in Austria. Sixty years later, consumption stood at 1.9 kgs; in 1970 at 3.8 kgs and in 1980 at 6.9 kgs. Maybe in 2000, the per capita consumption will be at roughly 10 kgs. That would mean an increase of nearly 1,600 percent in the course of 100 years.

One third of Austria's roasted coffee is consumed at coffeehouses, restaurants, bars and hotels, and the remainder is sold in food shops to the households.

Three quarters of all roasted coffee which is sold in stores and supermarkets is vacuum-packed ground coffee, one quarter is still sold as whole beans. Green coffee is preferred by Turkish and Yugoslavian guest workers in Austria. It can later be consumed as "fresh roasted" when they are back in their native countries.

Sixty percent of roasted coffee is sold in packages of 250 grammes, and recently also in packages of 1/8 kg, 40 percent in packages of 500 grammes and 1 kg-tending to small packages because of the growing number of single or mini households and because of the consumer's desire of freshness. Green coffee is sold only in one kg and five packages.

In private household's, coffee is drank approximately 65 percent as a "normal" coffee, and 20 percent as a mild coffee and at 15 percent as a decaffeinated coffee.

In comparison to the Anglo-American countries, soluble coffee in Austria is estimated at merely five percent.

Coffee substitutes as fig coffee, corn coffee, malt coffee, and chicory coffee lead a similar life on the shady side. Their shares fail to reach the 10 percent mark, with a falling tendency because there exists a large array of coffee specialties for every taste and taking also health aspects into regard so that there is no need to use any substitutes for coffee.

The retail turnover with coffee totals to US$ 385 million p.a. Coffeehouses, restaurants, bars and hotels sell coffee valued at US$ 3.1 billion.

In Austria there prevails a keen competition between the great coffee firms. They often think more in market shares than in profits. That's a pity. The only usufructuary of this situation is the consumer. Today the retail prices for roasted coffee are almost the same as 20 years ago. Specifically, they are just 3.5 percent above the level of 1969. (Please compare the cost of living index during the last 20 years in contrast to this.)

As to tea--Austria is still a "developing country." The most common mistakes are to economize the use of tea. That does not seem reasonable because tea is not expensive. One home brewed cup of tea costs about UScents 3.8, i.e. the amount of tea needed for one litre equals to no more than US$ 0.25. And only a share of 2.9 percent of the average monthly expenses of US$ 23.85 for beverages falls to tea (US$ 0.69.).

Austrian imports of black tea came to 1,520 tons in 1988; that is 0.15 percent of the world exports. About 360 tons of the value of about US$ 3.1 million are re-exported. 1,160 tons remain for domestic consumption and equal to turnovers of US$ 23.1 million (VAT excluded). Black tea is exported from Austria mainly to West and East Germany, the USSR, to France and Switzerland.

The residents of Qatar at the Persian Gulf are the champions in tea drinking (3.7 kgs per head and year), followed by the Irish people (3.0 kgs) and the English (2.9 kgs). Other countries with high tea consumption are Iraq, Turkey, Kuwait, Tunesia, Hong Kong and Saudi-Arabia. And even in Egypt (1.5 kgs) and Bahrain (1.5 kgs) which are holding the places 10 and 11 in the world ranking list, people are drinking 10 times more tea than in Austria where tea is possibly substituted by beer, wine, brandy and champagne or soft drinks (juices and mineral water).

The Austrian per capita consumption of 155 grammes of black tea is lower than that of the Federal Republic of Germany (160 gms.) and Switzerland (290 grammes). Italian people drink even less tea (6 gms.)!

This amount of 155 grammes corresponds to around 25 litres a year; that are three cups of tea per week. (Using correctly 1.5 grammes of tea for 1 cup of 150 millilitres the consumption would be 15.5 litres a year and 2 cups a week, respectively.)

Generally speaking, black tea consumption is slightly retrograde, herbal tea consumption stagnates, unlike the fruit teas which are rising sharply these days. This trend, which started two or three years ago might have been intensified by the fact that many consumers of flavored teas lived to see their boom approximately 10 years ago drift away to the various offer of fruit teas, e.g. maracuja etc.

In 1988 Australia exported 970 tons of herbal and fruit infusions US$ 7 million worth. Main buying countries were West Germany, United Kingdom, Australia, and France.

The inland sales of herbal and fruit teas totalled 1,400 tons valued at US$ 23.1 million (VAT excluded). As to the value they were as high as the proceeds of black teas sales; with regard to the tonnage they exceeded blak tea already by 20.7 percent.

Annual per head consumption of herbal and fruit teas figures out at 320 grammes; according to experience that comes up to 35 litres a year or 4-5 cups/week.

Altogether, the Austrian average household consumes 160 litres of tea drinks of every kind which corresponds to 20 cups per week. In comparison, there are 63 cups of coffee consumed per week in Austria, or three times more than tea.

PHOTO : A small percentage of tea is consumed in Austria.

PHOTO : Heinz Vejpustek, president of the Tea & Coffee Federation of Austria.

Dr. Heinz Vejpustek Secretary General Coffee & Tea Federation of Austria Vienna, Austria
COPYRIGHT 1989 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
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Author:Vejpustek, Heinz
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Sep 1, 1989
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