Harvesting coffee cherries in Nicaragua. Source
The science behind increasing global demand
By Bill (William) Murray, President & CEO, National Coffee Association
I’ve been thinking about the good news, challenges, and opportunities that face all of us in the coffee community – just as I travel to Brazil for the upcoming World Coffee Producers Forum.
The good news should be well known to all: last month California finally gave coffee the all clear, joining scientists worldwide in concluding that coffee does not cause cancer and may in fact protect against cancer and other diseases.
The science on coffee’s health benefits is settled. Even the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer acknowledges that coffee is no cancer risk, a feat the Wall Street Journal compared to “getting Chicken Little to say your roof looks sturdy.” California’s decision to reverse course on its controversial Prop 65 warnings is consistent with not just with the WHO, but also the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
This is clearly great news for science, common sense, and everyone who loves coffee.
But it’s not just coffee drinkers and cafés who will benefit.
The International Coffee Organization estimates the current supply of coffee beans exceeds demand by more than one billion pounds, so one of the best things we can do to help farmers is encourage coffee drinkers to consume that surplus.
With record supply on the global coffee bean market, anything that discourages people from choosing coffee is bad news for farmers.
Unjustified health scares do just that.
One of the topics that will be discussed at the WCPF in Brazil this week is how to increase global demand for coffee.
Even here in the United States we have a lot of room to grow – the United States is not even in the top 20 coffee-consuming countries. Many coffee-growing countries are also focused on growing domestic consumption.
There is much that can be done together to grow demand: We can share consumer insight research on health attitudes towards coffee. We can work together to shape education campaigns that can be tailored for different audiences, countries, and demographics. We can encourage broader understanding of coffee and health in the medical and barista communities. We can track ongoing coffee and health science to make sure it gets the attention it deserves.
At the NCA, we’re already doing some of this – but we’re stronger together. Whether you’re a coffee company or a coffee lover, these kinds of efforts are most effective when done by many – we can’t go far alone.
Helping farmers thrive in the face of economic and climate challenges won’t be easy, but every cup of coffee starts with a farmers’ beans.
We know supply is very high, so basic economics tell us that we need to increase demand. And with science on our side, we should make sure people in the United States and around the world know that drinking more coffee is good for coffee drinkers and coffee farmers alike.
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