Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Decaf Coffee In Europe - Data and Mysteries


Tea & Coffee Trade Journal, October 2011
This month's issue of Tea & Coffee gave a rare and detailed insight into the world of decaf coffee in Europe. A glimpse at Europe is, in many ways, a glimpse at the entire world of decaf coffee, because so much of the the world's decaf coffee is decaffeinated in Europe.

The article takes a look at the first ground-breaking compilation of market statistics on decaf coffee done in 1999 (using year 1997 based figures). The result back then? "Above 10% in Austria, Germany, Holland and Spain; just below 10% in Belgium and France; below 5% in Itlay and the UK; negligible amounts in Scandinavia." Averaged out -- "15 years ago the decaf tonnage consumed within the EU amounted to about 7% of the global [EU] coffee consumption, on a green bean disappearance basis."

Interesting terminology, eh? "GLOBAL EU coffee consumption? I assume that means there is also a "GLOBAL North American coffee consumption figure? As an editor, I would prefer to use "combined" to describe combined data, and save the word "global" for when we're really talking about the whole world.

Anyways -- the article goes on to estimate decaf consumption by country today. Unfortunately, there is no directly comparable report to the one done in 1999. Instead, Tea & Coffee has compiled various data and reports: France at 7% (down from before); Germany at 7.8% (also down). Decaf growth appears to have happened in Italy, now reporting 7% and Spain, "remaining the champion" is at 20%.

Wow! 20%! Why would that be? How could that be? That's a bit of a mystery. The article says "the Spanish decaf manufacturers have been intensely communicating about the benefits of decaf consumption." But who are the Spanish decaffeinators? We only know of plants in Italy and Germany.

So not surprisingly, an article delving into the world of decaf also digs up new mysteries in this shadowed and barely understood market!

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