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Selected International Coffee Markets: A Brief Overview
1) In many coffee consumer countries, coffee markets are characterized by oligopolistic market structures (An oligopoly is a market structure in which a few firms dominate.). For instance, in the United States, 70 percent of the total coffee market is controlled by three companies—Phillip Morris, Procter and Gamble, and Nestlé. United States: The United States is the single largest coffee market in the world: in 1997, the United States imported almost 19 million bags (60 kg) of coffee. In 1998, this amount increased slightly.
2) Canada: Canada imports approximately two million bags of coffee per year. By weight, this amounted to 115.7 million kg of green coffee in 1996 (Coffee Association of Canada). The structure of the Canadian coffee market mirrors the world market: it is controlled by Phillip Morris, Sara Lee, Procter and Gamble, and Nestlé. In addition, A. L. Van Houtte is a major coffee chain and roasted coffee supplier to supermarkets in Quebec and Eastern Canada, while the gourmet coffeehouse chain Second Cup (owned by Cara) rivals Starbucks in this market segment. Another important part of the Canadian coffee market are donut chains like Tim Hortons and Dunkin’ Donuts: in all, there are 5,464 specialty coffee restaurants—including donut shops—in Canada, compared to approximately 17,000 in the United States.
3) Europe: Together, Europe represents a major coffee consuming region. Total imports of green coffee into all of Europe—that is Western, Central and Eastern Europe—in 1997 were almost 45 million bags. However, the vast majority of the European market—over 80 percent—is in Western Europe. It is worth noting that a strong product differentiation does not exist in Western Europe between specialty, high-quality coffee and supermarket coffee, for the simple reason that supermarket coffee has consistently been of a much higher quality in Europe than in Canada and the United States. The best-selling coffees are reasonable quality blends, while the percentage of lower quality coffee (that is, Robustas and Brazilian Milds) which are used in blends varies at any given time, depending on market prices.
4) Germany is the largest single importer of coffee in Europe, with 13 million bags. After the United States, more coffee is roasted in Germany than in any other consumer country: in 1997, Germany exported approximately 1.5 million bags of roasted coffee.
5) Types of coffee consumed: Caffeinated versus decaffeinated Caffeinated coffee is the choice of a wide majority of adults. 6 percent of coffee drinkers in Canada use decaffeinated coffee. Caffeinated coffee is consumed by approximately 89 percent in the United States.
6) Amount of coffee consumed In the United States and Canada, coffee drinkers on average consume three cups per day (22.4 cups per week in the United States; 19.3 cups in Canada). In the United States, over one-fifth of the coffee drinkers (22 percent) consume more than the average three cups per day.
7) Amount of coffee purchased for home consumption: Adults in the United States purchase the most coffee for household consumption in a typical month (3.3 lbs.). Canadian coffee drinkers (who are least likely of all three countries examined to drink coffee at home) purchase, on average, about half the amount of their American counterparts (1.5 lbs.).
8) Types of coffee purchased for home consumption: In the United States and Canada, over three-fourths of the coffee drinkers choose ground coffee (79 percent and 76 percent respectively). Whole coffee beans are preferred by about one out of five drinkers (22 percent and 20 percent).
9) Primary decision maker: In both countries where this question was asked (United States and Canada), a majority of the coffee drinkers interviewed (51 percent and 59 percent respectively) said they alone were responsible for the coffee purchased for their household. Approximately one-quarter more said they share the decision with another household member. Primary decision-makers in both countries are more likely to be females: in the United States, 72 percent of the women interviewed said they alone were responsible for the coffee chosen for the household.