Are you a coffee lover? Do you want to know how Peru and coffee are related? You’ve probably heard that Peru has a big coffee manufacturing industry. Let’s expand a bit more on this!
Coffee arrived in Peru more than two centuries ago, when a few Austro-German European settlers wanted to try their luck with this crop, stimulated by the good results that were being obtained in neighboring countries. Currently, coffee has become the main agricultural export product and one of the best presentation cards of the country's excellence outside its borders.
The natural environment of the Andes, at more than 1,000 meters above sea level, is the natural setting where more than 4 million bags of Peruvian coffee are produced each year, a grain that is highly valued in the international market. Peruvian coffee is distributed throughout the world, especially to the United States, Europe and several Asian countries, where, despite initially arriving as a punctual substitute for Colombian coffees, today it occupies a prominent place in consumer demand for its excellent quality, having made a place for itself in the offer of the best firms and specialty coffee shops. Consumers appreciate Peruvian coffee for its smooth, slightly sweet flavor, good body and delicate aroma, which have earned it numerous awards in quality competitions and barista championships around the world. Peruvian coffee is produced on 350,000 hectares of coffee plantations in 210 rural districts located in 10 departments on the eastern slope of the Andes, with the Amazonas, San Martín and Chanchamayo regions being the three main growing areas. This last territory, Chanchamayo (origin of coffee in Peru), has traditionally been the coffee region par excellence, however, in recent times there has been a shift towards the northern highlands of the Amazonas and San Martín regions. And so it is that, although Chanchamayo still represents 16% of the total production, Amazonas and San Martín together already represent 47% of the national production.
Despite the weight of coffee in Peruvian agriculture, the serious economic crisis that producers are facing as a result of low market prices, as well as the still notable consequences of the coffee leaf rust outbreak that occurred six years and that affected 50% of the harvest, is causing Peruvian coffee growers to abandon their fields, reducing in recent years the total area of cultivation in the country. This situation has been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic that has disrupted the entire sector.
100% ARABICA COFFEE
Peru produces almost exclusively Arabica coffee, of which more than 70% is of the Typica variety, followed by Caturra (20%) and others (10%). The average density of plants on farms is 2,000 coffee trees per hectare, although depending on the growing region, this figure can vary considerably. It is not strange, either, that coffee growers have up to five different varieties mixed within their plots, almost all of which are always cultivated under shade (90%).
As most of the cultivation areas, 75%, are concentrated between 1,000 and 1,800 meters above sea level, coffee production in the country is completely manual and cherries continue to be picked, to a large extent, by hand and dried in the sun. .
According to data from the USDA, the average yield per hectare of coffee plantations in Peru is around 752 kilograms, although there are cases of very well-managed plantations where they reach 2,500 kilograms per hectare (42 bags of 60 kg). .
PRODUCTION 2020/2021, MARKED BY COVID-19
This year, the COVID-19 health crisis has caused a total disaster in the national coffee subsector. The movement restrictions, lack of cargo transport, interruption of harvest work and labor shortages, make the National Coffee Board anticipate that more than 20% of Peruvian coffee production, estimated for the current season at more than 4 million bags, will be lost.
It is estimated that during the last few months approximately 10,000 hectares of coffee have not been harvested in San Martin, Junín, Huánuco, Ayacucho and Ucayali and that up to 30% of the producers would be willing to abandon their plantations in search of more profitable alternatives than ensure their survival. And it is that these coffee growers accumulate several campaigns of losses due to low grain prices, and now, in a year in which it is estimated that supply will be greater than demand, prices are falling even more, something that for many of them is totally unsustainable, they explain from the JNC.
THE TRIUMPH OF COOPERATISM
Most of the country's 223,000 coffee-producing families are small farmers with plots of between three and five hectares on average. A third of agricultural employment is related to the coffee market (around 2 million Peruvians depend on this activity) and it is common for producers to form part of associations or cooperatives to obtain better prices, improve post-harvest production management and cooperate on more effective marketing strategies.
Thus, the innovation of Peruvian coffee growing has as a locomotive, in the last 25 years, the families of small farmers who chose to group themselves in agricultural cooperatives, to generate synergies. Some of the larger associations have a membership of over 2,000 producers. These organizations market production directly or through coffee merchants, and the most sophisticated associations have financial institutions that provide loans to producers, partially subsidizing production costs through technical assistance aimed at improving crop quality and yield.
One of the greatest achievements of the cooperatives has been the access of their members to an economy of scale of the various services and, especially, to the specialty coffee markets.
Peru is now internationally recognized as a major player in the production and export of high quality coffees. It also leads global fair trade coffee exports, with a little over 1 million quintals/year, of which 80% of the coffee is organic. This conquest corresponds to the effort of the cooperative movement. This movement is present in the 10 coffee-growing regions, with a significant installed industrial capacity, as well as warehouses, quality control laboratories, innovation centers and adaptation of latest generation coffee varieties, for now unique in the country.
The strength of this cooperative movement is recognized as an effective alternative for qualitative change in family farms, which over time, with the help of these organizations, have been able to replace crops such as coca with new coffee farms. .
COFFEE WITH OWN BRAND. TRADITION, ORIGIN AND SPECIALTY
In an effort to position the differential attributes that Peruvian coffee offers to the world, two years ago PromPerú - Commission for the Promotion of Peru for Exports and Tourism - launched the brand "Cafés del Perú" under which it is intended to group diversity, the origin, specialty, traceability and sustainability of the coffee produced in this country. The seal, which is available to producers and specialty coffee shops, represents all types of coffee that are produced in the Peruvian territory and that are characterized by their high quality (minimum 84 points per cup).
Consumers appreciate the smooth, slightly sweet taste, good body and delicate aroma of Peruvian coffee.
After its launch at the 2018 ExpoAmazónica, the “Cafés del Perú” brand is being promoted at national and international fairs, seeking to seduce consumers with the history of coffee from this country, a product that connects with the cultural richness and biodiversity of the country. Peru, and that allows a presence of unique flavors and aromas in the cup.
We hope you enjoy the coffee we included in our Peru journey box straight from Peru! And don’t miss out on our updates about our real life trip to Macchu Picchu with Disney!
Junta Nacional del Café, Agronoticias, La ruta del café peruano, USDA Infomercado