Uganda coffee in hot demand as exports climb to 30-year high

Demand for Ugandan coffee in Italy, where espresso lovers abound, has helped increase the East African nation’s exports of the beans to the highest in at least 30 years.

In August, Uganda overtook Vietnam to become the second-largest supplier of coffee to Italy for the first time this year, behind Brazil. Total shipments jumped 21% to 6.5 million 60-kilogram bags in the year through September – Uganda’s highest in three decades – about a third of that going to Italy.

Italy and Germany, which together produced more than 60% of the European Union’s roasted coffee last year, have diversified their sources for the beans. With Brazil and Vietnam having had trouble exporting amid shipping disruptions, European buyers increased uptake from growers including Uganda and India.

“Uganda has been a surprise over the past couple of years, it’s a successful case of production, expansion and promotion,” said Carlos Mera, head of agricultural commodities markets analysis at Rabobank in London. Given supply chain problems in South America and southeast Asia, roasters have been buying a little more from elsewhere and have been more flexible in blending, according to Mera.