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Salvadoran coffee looks for China hit

China Daily | Updated: 2020-11-03 10:50
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SAN SALVADOR-El Salvador's coffee boom, driven by the local bean's exquisite quality and flavor, has encouraged the country's producers to make inroads into new markets and strengthen existing trade ties.

The relations between China and El Salvador have opened a huge market for the export sector that is generating unique advantages for the Central American country.

Some six generations of Salvadoran coffee growers have dedicated themselves to producing a robust bean, and the family-owned businesses today face unrivaled opportunities in China. It is now easier for them to export their products to China thanks to the friendly ties between the two nations.

Salvadoran producers exported around 5,000 quintals (500 tons) of coffee during the 2018-19 season, bringing in revenues of $978,038.The figure is expected to increase.

Roberto Salaverria, owner of La Casona Coffee, said producers hope to export more to China by banding together to market and promote coffee with a unified message.

"In China… we must organize ourselves well and make a joint effort, learn how to speak to them" and approach the right people, he said.

Fairs that showcase Salvadoran coffee present great opportunities, but producers must be organized, he said. "In China, we can go to the provinces, associations, specific people who know a little about Latin America and want to give us a helping hand to work well. We have to organize ourselves well, make a united effort."

High-grade products

The country produces exclusively higher grade arabica coffee, nearly 68 percent of it the Bourbon variety. The beans are valued by consumers for their deep, buttery chocolate flavors, as well as their sweetness and very light fruit overtones.

Coffee exports represent around 5 percent of the country's total exports, and under normal conditions, the industry provides 100,000 direct jobs and 400,000 indirect jobs.

One of the industry's advantages is that it preserves the traditional cultivation process, avoiding use of chemicals and protecting the ecosystem.

Climatic conditions, soil and level of rainfall also contribute to the high quality of Salvadoran coffee.

In 2019, El Salvador exported 742,913 quintals of coffee to its five main markets. Revenues hit more than $103 million.

China's rising coffee consumption is an incentive for local growers, said Fernando Silva, manager of Los Ausoles cooperative. Despite the country's age-old tea-drinking culture, younger generations are acquiring a taste for coffee, Silva said.

To further strengthen Salvadoran coffee's presence in global markets, Salvadoran Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Pablo Salvador Anliker said the sector is turning to online coffee auctions.


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