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What is the demand for coffee in Europe?

Takes about 13 minutes to read

Europe is a large coffee market, accounting for around 30% of the global consumption. While consumption is expected to stabilise in the long term, Europe will remain an attractive market.  But it is also a saturated market, dominated by large producing countries Brazil and Vietnam. Together these countries account for half of Europe’s imports of green coffee. Smaller players find increasing opportunities on the speciality market. In this segment you can compete on quality and long-term relationships, rather than on price.


1 . European consumption remains relatively stable

Europe accounts for nearly 30% of the global coffee consumption.

European consumption remained relatively stable between 2013 and 2016. In the European Union alone, coffee consumption amounted to 2.5 million tonnes (41.6 million 60 kg bags) in 2015.

The European coffee market is large, but saturated. Therefore, consumption is expected to remain stable in the long term.

At the global level, coffee consumption is expected to grow by 2.2% per year until 2020. However, in 2015 and 2016, global consumption remained stable. Emerging markets such as Brazil, China, Russia, Indonesia and other are expected to account for 50% of total global consumption. Opportunities for suppliers might switch more towards local and regional markets. Due to the growth of the middle and upper classes in local and regional markets, increased opportunities can also be found for high quality and specialty coffees.

Tip:

  • See our study on trends for coffee for more information about consumer trends and how they are shaping the European coffee market. In this study you can also read about the implications of these trends for you as a supplier.

2 . The European market for specialty coffee is growing

The European market for speciality coffee is growing significantly and offering opportunities for suppliers offering high-quality coffees. The speciality segment is a small niche, but which commands high quality and high value.

While the mainstream market grows with cheaper products, the consumption of higher-quality blends, consisting of more expensive and speciality Arabica coffees, is also growing at a fast pace in Europe. The increasing interest in speciality coffee is reflected in the growing number of coffee bars and chains, small roasters, small local brands and baristas. For example, specialist coffee shops were the fastest growing restaurant category in 2016, increasing 9.1% from 2014-2015.

The speciality coffee segment is most pronounced in North-Western Europe, marked by higher income levels and consumer awareness, as well as a more developed coffee culture. In Nordic markets, there is a strong growth in out-of-home consumption, where coffee shops lead the way for the introduction of higher qualities. In the United Kingdom, where coffee consumption is generally increasing at 10% yearly, the speciality segment grows at an estimated rate of 13% yearly. In Germany, a traditional market for in-home consumption, speciality coffee does not grow as strongly. However, the expansion of coffee shops and consumers’ desire to replicate the coffee shop experience at home is contributing to the growth of this segment.

The East-European market for speciality coffee is smaller, but it is experiencing growth led by the coffee culture in cities such as Krakow (Poland), Prague (Czech Republic) and Vilnius (Lithuania). The expansion of coffee festivals, smaller speciality roasters and educational institutions (example: Coffee Embassy, in the Czech Republic) indicates the potential of these markets.

Specific Europe-wide data on the consumption of speciality coffee are not available. This is partly because there is no industry consensus on a clear-cut definition of speciality coffee.

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3 . Certified coffees see strong market expansion in recent years

The market has also grown strong in recent years for coffees which are certified against sustainability standards such as UTZ, Rainforest Alliance, organic and Fairtrade. Certification had a sharp growth within the coffee market in recent years. Both the production and sales of sustainably-produced coffee have grown significantly more than conventional coffee. The European market plays a major role in the market for certified coffee. Certification has become a market requirement of several buyers and retailers.

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4 . Germany, Italy and France are the largest consumers markets

Germany accounts for around 20% of total European consumption, followed by Italy (13%). Other large consuming market are: France (13%), Spain (8%) and the United Kingdom (8%) (International Coffee Organisation, 2016).

ICO notes that the European Union is a single market, thus it is not entirely possible to pinpoint exactly where coffee imported into the region was actually consumed.

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5 . Europe has the highest per capita consumption in the world

Europe has the highest per capita consumption in the world, amounting to around 5 kg of coffee per inhabitant yearly. Coffee consumption varies per country.

In the United Kingdom per capita consumption of coffee currently is around 3.3 kg per year (significantly below the European average). Growth is registered as tea consumption has fallen by 19% since 2010. As described above, the speciality segment is especially interesting in the United Kingdom.

Consumption also grows steadily in some Central and East European countries such as Poland. In Poland 80% growth was registered over the last 10 years. However, per capita consumption is much below the European average (2.3 kg per year in 2015). Around 74% of consumers choose instant coffee. At the same time, there are prospects for growth in speciality coffees as coffee shops and smaller roasters enter the market.

Nordic markets such as Finland, Sweden, Norway and Iceland register the highest per capita consumption, above 8 kg per year. These are stable markets, where the average per capita consumption of coffee is unlikely to change significantly. The choice for more high-quality coffee and the growth in out-of-home consumption indicate changes in drinking habits.

More information on coffee consumption per country is available on our country-specific factsheets such as France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Finland and the United Kingdom. Our study on channels and segments for coffee also highlight some interesting differences in coffee consumption across various European countries.

6 . European imports increased slowly, while import values decreased

There is no production of green coffee beans in Europe. As a consumer market, Europe is therefore dependent on imports from coffee-producing countries. However, Europe has a significant coffee-roasting industry (see below).

In 2016, Europe imported 3.4 million tonnes of green coffee beans. Between 2012 and 2016, the volume of imports increased slightly at an annual average rate of 1.6%. The value of imports decreased by 3.1% since 2011.

Around 91% of European imports of green coffee beans were sourced directly from producing countries. Intra-European trade accounted for 13% of supplies.

7 . Germany, Italy and Belgium are the three largest importers from developing countries

Germany was the largest importer of green coffee beans importing directly from developing countries in 2016, with a share of 35% of total European imports (1.1 million tonnes).

Germany has a large coffee roasting industry and most green beans are transported via the port of Hamburg, the largest transition point for coffee in Europe. The port of Bremen is also used as an entry point into the country. Examples of large coffee-roasting companies in Germany are Tchibo, Melitta, Jacobs and Dallmayr.

Italy was the second largest importer importing directly from developing countries in 2016, with a share of 18%. Since 2011, imports of Italy registered an average annual increase of around 4.1% in volume and remain relatively stable in value. Italy has some of the world’s most renowned coffee companies, such as Illy, Lavazza and Segrafredo. Italy imports a relatively large share of Robusta varieties, which are used as a basis for espresso blends.

Other large importers of green coffee beans are Belgium, Spain, France and the United Kingdom. In 2016, Belgium imported 268 thousand tonnes of green coffee from developing countries. Spain’s imports reached 237 thousand tonnes, while French imports amounted to 183 thousand tonnes and the United Kingdom imported 173 thousand tonnes.

8 . Italy and Germany have the largest coffee roasting industry

In 2016, total production of roasted coffee in Europe had a value of over €11 billion. Italy and Germany are the main producers of roasted coffee, with respective shares of 37% and 16%. France (12%) and Spain (9%) are other large European players.

Tips:

  • Read more about the importance of the coffee-roasting industry and the history of coffee in Europe on the website of the European Coffee Federation.
  • See our country-specific studies for coffee for more information on roasting and blend preferences in different European countries. Use this information to identify your best target market(s) in relation to your product offer. We offer information about following countries: France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Finland and the United Kingdom.
  • For your own research note that coffee is traded under specific trade codes. The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System for green and roasted coffee used by the Eurostat include: 090112, 090111, 090122, 090121. 

9 . Brazil and Vietnam are the main supplying countries of green beans

Brazil is the main supplier, followed by Vietnam and Colombia. Smaller, but also significant suppliers, are Honduras, Indonesia and India.

The relative positions of the most important supplying countries have not changed significantly in recent years.

Emerging suppliers such as Ethiopia and Peru currently account for a small share of the market, but are expected to grow within the high quality / speciality segments. Peru has special potential within the market for organic coffee, being the second largest producer and exporter of organic-certified coffees worldwide – only behind Mexico. Ethiopia has a strong edge for being the birthplace of coffee and is one of the favourite sources for high-quality coffees. Ethiopia also plans on increasing its exports significantly in the coming years.

Each supplying country has its own role and strengths within the European coffee sector. Brazil is a large supplier of both Robusta and Arabica varieties. Vietnam, India and Uganda have a strong focus on Robusta production. Colombia is known for its large Arabica production, similarly to Honduras.

Brazil supplied 956 thousand tonnes (28% of all supplies to Europe) in 2016, which increased in volume (+4.2%), but decreased in value (−3.9%) since 2012. Brazil’s production of Arabica coffee is expected to reach 2.7 million tonnes (56 million 60 kg bags) in 2017 and the production of Robusta coffee is expected to reach 630 thousand tonnes (11 million 60 kg bags).

With a share of 22% in volume (755 thousand tonnes) in 2016, coffee imports sourced from Vietnam remained relatively stable. Vietnam’s production in 2017 is estimated at 1.6 million tonnes (26 million 60 kg bags), of which 96% is Robusta coffee and 4% Arabica. However, production in Vietnam is expected to drop in 2016 and 2017 due to severe drought.

In 2016, Colombia supplied 218 thousand tonnes of green coffee to Europe (6.4% share in volume), and supplies increased at a significant average rate of 14% in volume between 2012 and 2016. Colombian production of green coffee beans grew 83% between 2012 and 2015, from 7.7 million (around 462,000 tonnes) to 14.2 million 60 kilos bags (around 852,000 tonnes). Colombia’s production is focused on Arabica varieties.

Honduras is also a relative large supplier, with supplies amounting to 197 thousand tonnes in 2016, and experiencing stable growth in volume between 2011 and 2015. Honduras is followed by India (154 thousand tonnes), Indonesia (125 thousand tonnes) and Uganda (123 thousand tonnes).

In spite of being a large producer (5th worldwide, at around 391 thousand tonnes), Ethiopia does not account for a high share of European coffee imports (3%, mostly directed to Germany). Ethiopia’s Arabica coffee beans mainly have high potential on the speciality market, which commands low volumes at a high price. The country´s coffee also relies on the storytelling aspect, as Ethiopia is considered to be “the birthplace of coffee” (YouTube documentary).

Peru’s production of Arabica varieties and organic-certified coffees also provide potential for speciality and niche markets in Europe. The country currently accounts for around 4% of total European imports. These are mostly directed to Germany, the largest organic market in Europe.

Tips:

  • Make sure you have considered the differences between the European regions and countries in your export strategy as the imports and consumption per European country can differ. See the country factsheets (France, Italy, Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Germany) for more information about the trade in the main coffee importing and consuming countries.  
  • Study the product offer and market position of competing suppliers. Analyse their strengths and weaknesses by studying their websites, social media and presentation at trade fairs. Understand their trade flows by using International Trade Centre’s Trademap website. All this information will help you draw a realistic and tailored export strategy.
  • See our study on Buyer Requirements for Coffee to learn about which European market standards and requirements you need to comply with when supplying to Europe.

10 . European green coffee exports remained relatively stable

In 2016, Europe exported 638 thousand tonnes green coffee beans, worth 1.7 billion. Between 2012 and 2016, green coffee exports remained stable in terms of volume and decreased by 3.4% in value. Most of the European coffee exports are destined for intra-European destinations, illustrating the importance of internal trade.

The largest European re-exporter and trade hub for green coffee beans is Germany with 336 thousand tonnes (53% share in volume) in 2016, followed by Belgium (189 thousand tonnes; 30% share in volume).

11 . Germany and Italy lead roasted coffee exports, Poland becoming more important

The largest exporters of roasted coffee in Europe are Germany and Italy. In 2016, Germany exported 214 thousand tonnes of roasted coffee. Italy exported 189 thousand tonnes.

Poland is a promising exporter of roasted coffee beans as well. The country exported 61 thousand tonnes in 2016, having experienced a slight decrease in relation to 2015. However, in the period between 2011 and 2015, Poland’s exports increased significantly, showing a long-term growth. Most of Poland’s exports were directed at the Czech Republic, Germany and France.

Other small but important exporters of roasted coffee were the Netherlands with 66 thousand tonnes, Belgium with 65 thousand tonnes and Switzerland with 65 thousand tonnes.

Most roasted coffee is traded within Europe. Intra-European exports concern almost 88% of total European exports. Outside the European Union and the European Free Trade Association, the main destinations are Russia, the United States, Ukraine and Australia.

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