I was back on CGTN‘s China24 program to briefly discuss the state of China’s coffee market for International Coffee Day. The appearance was similar to the one from May — touching on Starbucks’ expansion plans, international versus domestic chains, and the overall economic contribution of coffee to China’s economy. Host Sally Ayhan asked, “will coffee ever replace tea drinking in China?” While it’s dangerous to never say never, I highly doubt it. BUT, that doesn’t mean that the coffee market in China cannot still be one of the world’s largest in the not too distant future.
Also last week, I was asked to comment on a story for Grid News about the future of Brazil’s environmental programs in coffee, considering the upcoming national election. Most of what I said was not included in the article, which is fine, but I wish that one key point had been considered: regardless of who governs a country, it is business leaders who ultimately decide to pursue environmental conservation policies (or not). Effective business leaders anticipate and respond to consumer demand, so for as long as consumers ask and pay for environmentally friendly (however you choose to define this) coffee, then farms in Brazil and elsewhere will comply regardless of political leadership.
Brazil’s coffee agribusiness leaders are keenly aware of the disastrous impacts of climate change globally as well as to their own businesses. Varying enforcement of environmental policies won’t change their business policies much, specifically as it relates to deforestation. Coffee prefers to grow in shade and under forest canopy, often resulting in better quality. So ultimately, it’s the consumer’s choice — by voting with their coffee purchases by favoring better quality.