Does the world want Starbucks coffee from China?

Trip Start Jan 30, 2007
Trip End Dec 31, 2011

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Flag of China  , Yunnan,
Thursday, January 15, 2009

Is it a case of Yellow Peril? Or perhaps Brown Peril?

The fear of China, of anything made in China, and now, coffee grown and roasted in China.
Yes, soon China will supply the world with coffee, along with just about every other staple (some with high levels of pesticides, residues, GMO,etc).

Not that coffee is a new product for China (or something it is ripped off other countries). There's a long history of China's warmer regions - south Yunnan and Hainan island - growing coffee - dating back to the involvement of the French in these areas.

As well as Nestle, Starbucks is storming ahead in its use and promotion of coffee from China. Yesterday they launched South of the Clouds blend of coffee, to co-incide with its 10 years in China. Starbucks has just 350 stores in China - out of 17,000 worldwide - but the market is growing fast. While it is closing stores in the US, the Seattle based company is opening up new ones every few weeks in China.

The new blend launched in China, which combines local and imported beans, will be available worldwide.

But some people are questioning whether a country linked to contaminated food, tainted toys and dangerous additives can regain its reputation. One writer says this:
The biggest problem with China in my opinion: the Communist government of the past century has all but obliterated the considerable agricultural wisdom of centuries, with farmers left not knowing how to nourish their crops and livestock (the root source of the melamine poisoning) and officials only helping by punishing those who don't produce food that meets standards.

Back for a moment to Nestle. In a supermarket flier delievered today to my house, for the biggest Chinese holiday - Chinese New Year - Nestle gift packs feature as a gift you might give a friend or associate. They start from $10US for a jar of instant coffee, a jar of whitener, and a cup and spoon, to just under $30 for a set with extra cups and saucers. This is for instant coffee, in a country where I could feed a village lunch of rice, meat and two veges for 70 people for that same $30US. Or for 50c I could buy a packet of 150g green tea.

OK, back to Starbucks and it's rant:
"Our intention is to work with the officials and the farmers in Yunnan province to bring Chinese coffee not to China, but to the world," Martin Coles, president of Starbucks Coffee International, told The Associated Press.

"Ultimately I'd love see our coffees from China feature on the shelves of every one of our stores in 49 countries around the world," he said.

"As Chinese are known for their tea ... we want to make Starbucks coffee as best known and as best quality as the tea," said Wang Jinlong, president of Starbucks for greater China, which includes Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.

The company began shutting around 600 stores in the U.S. and 61 in Australia last year as part of its nearly yearlong campaign to reverse slowing sales and falling profits.

Coles said the company was comfortable with the supply chain in China. The store stopped offering milk and switched to imported soy milk last year after milk tainted with the industrial chemical melamine was found to have poisoned hundreds of thousands of children in a scandal that shocked the country.

The company had been working with farmers and suppliers in the Baoshan region of Yunnan for three years.

"We believe the growing conditions in Baoshan can be as good as anywhere else in the world, and we are excited to take coffee from China to share with people all around the world," said Dub Hay, senior vice president of Starbucks Coffee and Tea.
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