by Nguyen Thi Thuy Anh
HANOI, March 15 (Xinhua) -- Based on the data released by the General Statistics Office, in 2012 Vietnam was the world's top coffee exporter with some 1.73 million tons, worth 3.68 billion U. S. dollars, sold abroad.
However, the figure appears to be too small compared to the revenues flowing into some coffee-importing countries in the world, according to Tran Hieu, vice chairman of the Dac Lac provincial people's committee.
Tran made the observation during the Fourth Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Festival, which was held from March 9 to 12 in Buon Ma Thuot City in Vietnam's central Dac Lac province.
Areas planted to coffee in Vietnam increased from 533,000 hectares in 2000 to 550,000 hectares in 2011, with coffee production growing from 769,705 tons to 1.219 million tons, according to Luong Van Tu, chairman of Vietnam's coffee and cocoa association, who also attended the coffee festival.
Although there was a strong growth of nearly 34 percent in revenues from the coffee industry in 2012, the actual value of Vietnam's coffee is still not so high.
Analysts here attributed this to the imbalance in the price of coffee from coffee growing or exporting countries and the revenues earned by consuming countries.
The bulk of Vietnam's coffee is exported as raw materials and this has a low added value.
In export volume, Vietnam accounts for 20 percent of global coffee market share but its actual value is worth only three percent.
The question put forward at the festival was how to increase the value of Vietnam's coffee being exported and to develop a sustainable coffee industry by increasing local consumption.
According to Tu, Vietnam pocketed only around two U.S. dollars for one kilogram of coffee beans sold. This is equivalent to price of one cup of coffee sold in coffee-importing countries.
Tu said that one kilogram of coffee beans from Vietnam can easily make some 50 cups of coffee.
In 2012, Vietnam's processed coffee for domestic consumption brought in revenues of only 12 trillion Vietnamese dongs (some 575 million U.S. dollars), according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
In 2012, Vietnam has surpassed Brazil to become the top coffee exporter in the world.
However, according to statistics from the International Coffee Organization (ICO) on volume of domestic consumption of coffee in exporting countries for crop years 2010-2011 to 2012-2013, Vietnam 's coffee consumption stood still at 1.583 million bags of 60 kilogram while Brazil's domestic coffee consumption kept growing from 19.130 million bags to 20 million bags, over 12 times higher than Vietnam.
There is still a big gap between the development of coffee industry in Brazil and Vietnam as Vietnam spends only 5 percent of raw coffee for processing, while Brazil uses nearly 50 percent.
Vietnam has now four instant coffee brands while the number in Brazil is 20 and of the number of coffee roasters, there are 20 brands in Vietnam while Brazil has 3,000.
Some 20 years ago, Brazil faced the same problem that Vietnam has now. Low-quality coffee has eroded Brazilian consumers' faith, which led to the decline in Brazil's coffee consumption in 1985 by more than 50 percent compared to that of l965.
The situation prompted the Brazilian government to implement a 10-year, 27 million U.S. dollar master plan to rescue its domestic coffee consumption. The plan helped Brazil increase its domestic coffee consumption by 420,000 tons of raw coffee per year, worth one billion U.S. dollars.
Nguyen Thanh Tung, deputy general director of Vinacafe Bien Hoa, said that Vietnam should learn from Brazil's experience in boosting domestic coffee consumption to increase coffee industry's added value.
On average, each Vietnamese consumes only some 0.7 kg of coffee per year, only one tenth compared to that of other developed countries, said Tung.
If 50 percent of raw coffee in Vietnam is being processed into coffee products and the level of coffee consumption per capita in Vietnam is being increased, the country will be able to pocket over 300,000 billion VND (nearly 15 billion U.S. dollars) from its domestic market, Tung said.
Dang Le Nguyen Vu, chairman of Trung Nguyen Coffee Group, one of the Vietnam's leading coffee producers, called for collaboration among the state, the farmers, the enterprises, the technology experts and the communication agents in making the country's coffee industry sustainable.