Market Development Facility (MDF)’s Arabica Coffee Value Chain Analysis is a one-of-a-kind, in-depth analysis into Sri Lanka’s specialty Arabica coffee sector. The study collects information from bean to cup, charting the pathways to scale and identifying the opportunities for growth in the Arabica coffee sub-sector in Sri Lanka. The recommendations of the report can be used by all stakeholders to align their efforts to achieve sustainable growth in this niche industry.
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Sri Lanka’s coffee exports have increased, growing 84 per cent from 2017 to reach nearly USD 355,000 by 2019 as per Export Development Board (EDB) data.
Sri Lanka Coffee Timeline
Coffee was first introduced to Sri Lanka by the Arabic merchants.
Fun fact: coffee was introduced to Brazil Java, Cuba, Venezuela and Puerto Rico in the 17th century.
Sri Lanka records an export of 140,000 lbs green beans. This boost was contributed by the Robusta coffee promotions by the Dutch rulers (in areas like Galle and Negambo).
Dutch ignored the coffee economy
British took a very strong focus in to creating a coffee based, outward looking export economy. Railroads, plantation expansions were the key areas.
Recorded an export volume of 2 million lbs of green beans. Start of the peak
Hamelia vasterix (rust) hit the country and wiped out most of the plantations
In 1860s, 185,000 acres produced over 1 million lbs of green beans. 275,000 acres in 1878 could only yield 610lbs. (cultivation almost doubled but the production was a fraction)
Global great depression which demobilized the global coffee economy including the bloom in Sri Lankan coffee economy
Coffee sector in survival mode. Tea was introduced in the late 18th century to substitute coffee.
Sri Lanka signed the International Coffee Agreement. This benefitted SL to step up its export volumes
and fetch better prices.
Establishment of the Department
of Export Agriculture
Sri Lanka re-emerges as a coffee exporter.
FOB average price per kilo of coffee – Rs 4.98, which supported the exporters
Reaches the peak of exports before declining again. Recorded an export of 2.6 million kgs and slumps greatly
A significant peak was observed due to improved prices and improved volumes. Export volume was 3.1 million kgs of green bean
Current acreage of cultivation is at 30,000 acres
Robusta home gardens.
Sri Lanka is well positioned geographically and climatically to produce high-quality specialty coffee and take advantage of growing global demand.