Belgium has toppled America as Kenya’s top export market for coffee for the first time in a decade.
The European nation imported Kenyan coffee worth Sh6.5 billion in the year to June 2021. This was nearly double what it bought in the prior year, overtaking the United States as the top buyer of the beverage.
The US has for the last four years been holding at the top after toppling Germany in 2018, the position that Berlin had held for a decade.
The US emerged second in terms of purchases having bought coffee worth Sh4 billion in the review period.
“While the top five countries remain the same for the two-season, it is important to note that Belgium improved from position three in the previous year to the top position in 2020/21,” said the head of the Coffee Directorate Enosh Akuma.
Statistics from Coffee Directorate indicate Belgium bought 8.9 million kilogrammes of the produce up from six million kilos while the US bought 6.1 million kilos against nine million a year earlier.
Until 2017, Germany was the largest buyer of Kenyan coffee, but its dominance was breached by America in 2018, which emerged top for the first time and held that position until last year.
The US took the top spot in 2018 after Kenya aggressively marketed its specialty coffee during the 2018 Specialty Coffee Association of America symposium in Seattle.
Kenya was given “portrait status” at the symposium, making it the main focal point of the exhibition, which is one of the largest single-market avenues for coffee producers to meet buyers and consumers of the beverage.
Germany emerged third in the review period having purchased 5.5 million kilos worth Sh3 billion.
Kenya exports most of its coffee as cleaned beans. It exports only five percent as roasted coffee. The country, therefore, misses out on the added value from selling roasted and packaged coffee.
Roasters buy Kenyan produce to blend with lower quality beans from elsewhere in the world. The country is seeking to raise the amount of coffee, which is locally roasted, by five to 10 percent annually over the next five years.