Coffee, import-export development agreement between Trieste and Kenya

The agreement follows three years of contacts initiated in 2018 with a first informal visit to Trieste by Kenyan representatives, followed in May 2019 by an official mission to Italy in which the salient points of the collaboration were preliminarily defined


Strengthen the Africa-Trieste route of quality coffee in both directions. Adequate volumes of carefully selected raw materials from the Kenyan plantations to the Trieste port. And Italian know-how and equipment to Kenya to spread the consumption of the tricolor espresso, now officially a candidate for Unesco’s intangible heritage of humanity, also in the tourist-accommodation facilities of the African country.


MoU Coffee Association Trieste – Ministry of Agriculture of Kenya

The development of the African route is the goal of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the Caffè Trieste Association and by the Ministry of Agriculture, Wildlife, Fisheries and Cooperation of Kenya.

An agreement that follows three years of contacts initiated in 2018 with a first informal visit to Trieste by Kenyan representatives, followed in May 2019 by an official mission to Italy in which the salient points of the collaboration were preliminary defined.

After the pauses and delays due to Covid, the formal signing of the agreement was reached last November. The three main purposes are to promote knowledge of coffee produced by Kenyan agriculture and its communication on the Italian market, to carry out missions in Kenya to make Italian operators dialogue with local producers, to open a commercial channel for machinery and equipment in the production sector. Italian market in the African country.


Why Kenyan coffee

“Kenya is a territory of origin of excellent quality coffee, very interesting for Italian roasting”, comments Fabrizio Polojaz, president of the Trieste Coffee Association, 130 years of history, the oldest in Italy and among the oldest in Europe which represent the sector’s supply chain.

“Imports into our country of Kenyan coffee, mainly of the Arabica type used both in blends for espresso and as a single origin, have more than halved in the last 10/15 years, not due to a quality problem but because it was not guaranteed continuous availability on the market and constant relevance to the particular organoleptic profiles required by roasters. And when there are gaps in product availability and there are no guarantees of availability, the roasters turn to other origins that ensure continuity of homogeneous supplies of homologous coffees capable of giving the same characteristics to the final blend. The collaboration we have started with Kenyans also aims to solve this problem ».

There is also a question of the positioning of the port of Trieste with respect to the international lines of naval traffic: “Coffee from East Africa, as well as Asian coffee, passing through the Suez canal arrives more directly in the Adriatic, while that of the Center and South America has the ports of the Tyrrhenian Sea or Northern Europe as its most convenient terminals ».

Trieste “coffee capital” The Julian capital is one of the main districts of the sector in Italy, a cluster in which obviously apart from the plantations, all segments of the supply chain are present: raw foodists, roasters, logistics, decaffeination, manufacturers of machines and equipment , certifiers and analysis laboratories.

The port of Trieste is the first in Italy for the quantity of coffee products imported into our country, with a share of about 20% of the total. And Trieste is historically a symbol of Italian coffee, a city with an average per capita consumption double the national average, with its own cup rite that has peculiarities different from other areas of Italy (for example its own jargon when ordering espresso and cappuccino at the bar: “black”, “black in b”, “caffelatte”, “head in b”, “drop”). A ritual, that of the Trieste tradition, recently also celebrated in an article by BBC Travel.


The needs of the Trieste and Italian supply chain

Polojaz emphasizes that one of the fundamental needs in the coffee supply chain is that of receiving the raw material treated in the best possible way for the type of processing envisaged. Not raw but selected according to the use of transformers.

“The Italian roasting industry needs to understand what the country of origin can provide and to communicate the correct way in which you want to receive the product, a question that therefore also concerns problems of agronomy and adequate post-harvest and preparation processes for exports ”, explains Polojaz. “As an Association we have already done missions of this type in India, Guatemala, South America, and before the advent of Covid we were heading towards Africa”.

Market opportunities in Kenya The Trieste Coffee Association also sees in the agreement with Kenya an excellent opportunity in the market of the African country for Trieste and Italian technologies. Bar equipment manufacturers can target hotel chains and resorts, given that Kenya is a popular tourist destination for Westerners, i.e. the target of consumers more accustomed to espresso who like to find Italian-style coffee in their own more exotic destinations. While producers of agricultural and primary treatment equipment, such as storage silos and sorting machines, can intercept the wide potential for local development.


Social sustainability for Kenyan farmers

The meeting and dialogue between the Caffè Trieste Association and the Ministry of Agriculture and the Coffee Board of Kenya was favored and supported by the Paduan consultancy firm Bergs & More, an international law, tax and business advisory firm with a presence also in the Middle East and Africa, where it has operational offices in Dubai, Doha and Nairobi, capital of Kenya. Bergs & More ensured operational contacts during the Covid period when the scheduled meetings were not possible.

The initiative was followed by Rita Ricciardi, also president of the Italian-Kenyan Trade Association, a professional with over 20 years of direct experience in East Africa, of which 10 in the UN FAO agency on complex projects in the field agriculture and livestock, which together with the representatives of the two parties will be a member of the management committee for the implementation of the shared objectives.

“The implementation of this MoU can help to overcome the problems that have so far limited the international spread of Kenyan coffee, starting precisely from the important Italian market which for Kenya today represents only 1% of the national export of this commodity. agricultural sector, the 23rd in the world, for a value in 2019/20 of approximately 1.2 million dollars », observes Ricciardi.

“But there is also a social approach as well as an economic one, in a logic of sustainability dear to the Trieste Coffee Association, because it focuses on the growth of farmers. In fact, we want to work with the Kenyan government to first of all help small farmers who are mainly women, and then go and involve even the largest operators. In this sense, the primary objective is to bring together agricultural producers and importers directly, cutting the chain of intermediaries who today, on the one hand, make a large part of the income leaving little to farmers, on the other represent a significant additional cost that makes Kenyan coffee too expensive and therefore not very competitive on the market ».

The consultant also highlights the importance of the coffee mapping activities, because to ensure the continuity over time of a homogeneous organoleptic quality of coffee, so strongly requested in Italy, it is necessary to establish a direct relationship with agricultural producers without passing by intermediaries who, on the other hand, can often change their sources of supply and therefore the characteristics of the product.


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