Opportunities on the Russian coffee market

Once known as a traditional tea nation, Russia is becoming an important coffee market. Russians have found their appetite for coffee. And the national industry is also becoming more interesting and diverse. The bulk market revolves around instant coffee. However, there is a growing group of consumers interested in speciality coffees. These developments bring interesting opportunities for exporters. Still, understanding the structure and dynamics of the Russian market is essential for success.

The speciality coffee scene in Russia is young but is steadily gaining importance. Two major cities dominate the country’s speciality market: Moscow and St. Petersburg. Both cities are home to a growing and increasingly vibrant coffee shop market, which tends to serve higher-quality Arabica coffees. In the Russian speciality coffee market, it is not just large international chains like Starbucks and Costa Coffee seeing increasing consumer interest. Independent coffee shops and micro-roasters are seeing increasing consumer interest, too. The size and growth of the out-of-home coffee market in these cities drive the growth of the entire nation’s speciality scene.

Speciality coffee is becoming more popular

Coffee events, like the Russian Barista Days and the Moscow Coffee Festival, are also doing well. These contribute to the promotion of speciality coffees. The growing popularity of the speciality coffee scene is also driven by the successful participation of Russians in the yearly World Coffee Roasting Championship. This championship was won by Russians in both 2018 and 2019.

These developments have opened up the market and introduced higher-quality coffees to a wider base of Russian consumers. Today, more and more Russians appreciate good coffee and are willing to pay for it. Still, the speciality market in Russia is small and young, especially when compared to other European countries.

Imports show a change in preferences

The developments in the Russian coffee market are reflected in the country's imports. In 2019, about 57% of Russia´s green coffee imports consisted of Robusta beans. Robusta mainly caters to the country’s large instant coffee market. This market accounted for roughly two-thirds of coffee sales volume in 2018. Still, patterns and preferences are changing. Since 2015, imports of Arabica beans have grown steadily, with average annual growth rates reaching 12%. Brazil supplied an estimated 51% of the total Russian import of Arabica, followed by Colombia (11%) and Honduras (8.4%). More and more often, Arabica beans are imported to meet the growing demand for roast and ground coffees in Russia. They are also imported to meet demand from the country’s growing speciality coffee scene.

Read our study on the Russian coffee market for more information about the Russian market, its dynamics and main players.

This news article was written for CBI by Gustavo Ferro and Lisanne Groothuis from Profound – Advisers In Development.

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