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Swiss Water process offers marketing program.

Swiss Water Process offers marketing program

Sales of gourmet, whole-bean and decaffeinated coffees have grown at a phenomenal rate during the past quarter century. Gourmet coffee sales account for 10% of total coffee sales, but the growth within the gourmet segment has been remarkable. Sales have increased 20-24% a year over the past six years, with the wholebean segment climbing at 30%, almost double the growth rate for gourmet foods as a group.

Decaffeinated coffees have virtually paralleled the outstanding growth of gourmet coffee. The number of decaffeinated coffee drinkers has grown more than 400% since 1962. Although in supermarkets decaf represents 15% of total coffee sales, in specialty stores it accounts for almost double that amount, reaching 25 to 30 percent of the market. The Coffee Development Group estimates that there are about 10,000 specialty coffee stores in the U.S., and the number is escalating each year.

If the growth of gourmet decaf coffee sales continues at the current rate, decaf could represent 33% of the gourmet coffee market by 1992, and half by the year 2000.

While growing awareness of caffeine's effect on health has helped fuel skyrocketing sales of decaf coffees, especially in gourmet and specialty shops, how coffee beans are decaffeinated remains a confusing mystery to most consumers.

Much of this confusion stems from the desire of decaf coffee marketers to deal with burgeoning numbers of consumers seeking more and more chemical-free alternatives in their food and beverage.

Consequently, a blurring of terms like "water processed" and "natural" has occured--terms often found on packages containing coffee decaffeinated with chemicals.

A look at how coffees are decaffeinated is revealing. The most common methods of decaffeination are:

Swiss Water

The key to Swiss Water decaffeination is that the original flavor components never leave the bean. Green, unroasted premium coffee beans are soaked in water to dissolve the caffeine, which is water soluble. The flavor-charged water is passed through carbon filters to remove the caffeine.

Now caffeine-free, this flavor-charged water is used to decaffeinate new batches of beans. The water absorbs the caffeine, but the flavor components cannot escape into the flavor-charged water, so the decaffeinated beans retain their original rich, full flavor and are 100% chemical-free, says Coffex North America.

Water Processed

Water is used in every method of decaffeination. Therefore, a procuct labeled "Water Processed" is not necessarily decaffeinated using Swiss Water decaffeination, nor is it necessarily chemical-free, says Coffex North America.

Supercritical [CO.sub.2]

This process uses carbon dioxide that has been compressed at 200 times the normal atmospheric pressure to remove caffeine from water-saturated coffee beans. This chemical-free method is used primarily to decaffeinate large quantities of commercial-grade coffee.

Chemical Methods

Chemical solvents can be used directly or indirectly to decaffeinate the beans. The direct method begins with soaking green unroasted beans in water. The beans are then flushed directly with the chemical solvent to draw out the caffeine.

In the indirect method, green beans are steeped in hot water to dissolve the caffeine. Next, the water is separated from the beans and treated with a chemical solvent to remove the caffeine. Then, flavor ingredients in the water are returned to the beans, which are then rinsed to wash off trace amounts of the chemical.

Chemical solvents used most often are:

Methylene Chloride (DCM)

A chemical solvent, DCM is used as a decaffeinating agent, usually in direct contact with the beans. The FDA considers trace amounts of residual DCM in decaffeinated coffee low enough to be acceptable.

Ethyl Acetate

Coffee beans treated with the chemical solvent ethyl acetate as a decaffeinating agent are typically called "naturally" decaffeinated because ethyl acetate exists in fruits in minute quantities. Ethyl acetate is produced commercially from ethyl alcohol and acetic acid.

Coffex North America Swiss Water decaffeinated coffee beans now have a cleaner, more polished and appealing look. Capital improvements in its already state-of-the industry Swiss Water decaf plant in Vancouver, B.C., now clean and polish the beans to provide roasters and retailers with a product that is visually appealing as well as chemical-free and great tasting.

"We want our beans to look as good as they taste," said Macdonald, "The visual appeal of our new beans has been dramatically improved through the new cleaning and polishing process."

Green, unroasted beans are cleaned in a rotary cleaner which contains two bi-level vibrating screens. The upper screen removes large clumps of chaff and debris, allowing the beans to fall to the lower screen which sieves out fine particles and broken pieces of bean. The beans are then placed into a green coffee washing and refining machine, a large drum-shaped machine that vigorously stirs beans which have been sprayed with just enough water to dampen them. The agitation removes the remaining silver skin and debris, while the friction polishes the beans.

Coffex North America has a new program for coffee roasters, offering substantial rebates for using the Swiss Water decaffeinated logo on packaging and new Swiss Water decaffeinated merchandising materials with their retailer marketing program.

"We developed these rebate programs to encourage a stronger relationship with our roasters, who we consider a valuable resource in providing information about Swiss Water decaf to retailers and their customers," said Don Macdonald, general manager, Coffex North America.

The packaging program offers a $0.03/lb. (U.S.) rebate to roasters when they use the Swiss Water logo and name on packaging for consumer, food-service and bulk and work with retailers to use Swiss Water decaf point-of-sale materials.

An additional marketing program offers roasters a $0.07/lb. (U.S.) rebate. To qualify, roasters must participate in the packaging rebate program and invest the first $0.07/lb. (U.S.) in their Swiss Water decaf marketing efforts. After this roaster's first $0.07/lb. (U.S.) investment, Coffex will rebate an additional $0.07/lb. (U.S.) Rebates will be paid out on a semi-annual basis, based on volume purchased and spending during the actual period. Adjustments will be made at the end of the year for annual volume spending.

Marketing programs must use materials exclusive to Swiss Water decaf (multi-brands materials do not qualify), prominently display the Swiss Water logo, use the trade name correctly and direct materials to consumers through point-of-sale, advertising, contests and couponing.

Roasters can obtain complete details about the rebate programs and a contract by contacting their green bean supplier or Terry Taciuk, marketing and sales manager, Coffex North America, Box 2170, Vancouver, B.C. Canada V6B 3V6. Tel: (604) 420-2511.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
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Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Sep 1, 1990
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