IEPlus: Italy and Spain cut on gourmet coffee

A decrease in disposable income of Italian and Spanish households, caused by austerity measures introduced to fight the sovreign debt crisis in the region, is taking its toll on the consumption of coffee in the two Southern European countries.

Data recently released by the London-based International Coffee Organisation showed that demand for coffee products traditionally consumed in Italy and Spain, such as espresso, cappuccino and cortado, has reached the lowest levels in about six years, leading to a drop in wholesale prices.

Even if in Spain per capita consumption is back to 2006 levels, both Italians and Spanish are reluctand to give up on their daily shots of caffeine.

Data gathered by the organisation on the amount of cappuccinos purchased at coffee shops suggest that Southern Europeans are brewing more coffee at home, with a switch in consumption towards less expensive brands and products.

This is confirmed by an increase in the demand for lower quality beans.

Overall in the eurozone, demand for coffee-based drinks has not decreased, but shifted.

Data suggest that in Germany and France, the first and third-largest coffee importers in Europe respectively, the demand for the brown beans is on the rise.

A similar positive trend is found in emerging markets, such as Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Indonesia where the consumption of coffee is growing.

A different picture is painted in traditional coffee producing countries across Central and South America and Asia, where the coffee mania is booming both in terms of numbers and trends, the International Coffee Organisation suggested.

Consumers are willing to pay for gourmet products  in coffee shops, such as the espressos and cappuccinos traditionally consumed in Italian cafes.

At home, consumers in emerging markets are investing in coffee machines such as Nespresso, seen as a new luxury products.

Photo: Perfect cappuccino cup from Italian producer Illy

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