Italy Espresso Lovers Lift Uganda Coffee Exports to 30-Year High

Ugandan coffee is in high demand in Italy, where espresso lovers abound, which has helped boost the East African nation’s coffee exports to their highest level in at least 30 years.

Uganda surpassed Vietnam in August to become the second-largest coffee supplier to Italy for the first time this year, trailing only Brazil. Total shipments increased by 21% to 6.5 million 60-kilogram bags in the year to September, the highest level in three decades, with roughly a third going to Italy.

Italy and Germany, which together produced more than 60% of the roasted coffee consumed in the European Union last year, have diversified their bean sources. Due to Brazil and Vietnam’s difficulties exporting due to shipping disruptions, European buyers increased their purchases from growers in Uganda and India.

“Uganda has been a pleasant surprise over the last couple of years; it is a model of production, expansion, and promotion,” said Carlos Mera, Rabobank’s head of agricultural commodities markets analysis in London. Due to supply chain constraints in South America and south-east Asia, roasters have increased their purchases from other regions and increased their blending flexibility, according to Mera.

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Uganda is Africa’s largest exporter of coffee and the continent’s second largest producer, behind Ethiopia. President Yoweri Museveni’s administration oversaw the planting of millions of new trees in recent years as part of a plan to increase annual production to 20 million bags by 2030.

“There was some government involvement, and we are seeing the results; production has increased significantly and is expected to continue to do so,” Mera said.

Ugandan authorities attribute their success in Europe, Asia, and the United States to improved bean quality, which is now a priority as new trees begin to bear fruit. The unit of Nestle SA announced last year that it would begin producing and marketing coffee from Uganda’s mountainous Rwenzori region. Nespresso sells its limited-edition capsules in countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom.

“We are seeing an increase in the number of professionals involved in coffee farming,” said Tony Mugoya, executive director of the Uganda Coffee Farmers Alliance lobby group. “The sector is seeing an increase in capital investment.”

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