For the second year in a row, Belgium has become Kenya’s largest export market for coffee, taking over the position formerly held by the US.

The European nation imported Kenyan coffee worth $64 million (Ksh7.4 billion) in the year to June 2022, a 17 percent jump from the previous season.

The US came in second having purchased coffee worth $62.3 million (Ksh7.19), a significant rise from $37.4 million (Ksh4 billion) that it bought previously.

The US had until 2021 held the top position on Kenyan beverage after toppling Germany in 2018, the slot that Berlin had held for a decade.

However, the US bought slightly more quantities when compared with Belgium but the latter offered better prices per unit, emerging top on account of value.

According to the directorate, the US bought 8,104 tonnes of coffee compared with Belgium’s 8,085 tonnes in the review period.

Germany emerged position three having bought coffee worth $36.7 million (Ksh4.2 billion) in the last financial year, with the value having improved from $28 million Ksh3 billion previously.

Until 2017, Germany was the largest buyer of Kenyan coffee, but its dominance was breached by America in 2018, which emerged top for the first time and held that position until 2021.

Coffee samples at the Nairobi Coffee Exchange. (Photo:NCE)
Coffee samples at the Nairobi Coffee Exchange. (Photo:NCE)

The US took the top spot in 2018 after Kenya aggressively marketed its coffee during the 2018 Specialty Coffee Association of America symposium in Seattle.

The Kenyan coffee market segment comprises America and Japan. This market consumes high-quality coffee (premium coffee grades Kenya AA, AB and PB). They command 20 percent of the total annual production.

The specialty market which comprises the USA, Canada, Japan and Norway commands the second largest share of Kenya’s coffee market after the traditional markets majorly in the European Union trading bloc.

The USA market currently commands 74 percent market share of the total specialty market segment although Norway currently offers lucrative prices than any other destination.

Norway and Japan only accounted for 11 percent of the market share in the review period while Canada had the lowest share of the specialty market currently at four percent.