Rwandan coffee sold to Starbucks up approximately 40 containers per year, industry official says; coffee chain sells high-grade Rwandan coffee at its 800 UK outlets

CAPE TOWN, South Africa , April 19, 2013 () – Rwandan coffee sold to Starbucks Corporation increased by approximately forty containers per year, Alex Kanyankole, the Director General National Agriculture Export Board (NAEB), said.

Starbucks, an American global coffeehouse chain, opened offices in Kigali in 2009, but its purchase of high quality Arabic coffee from Rwanda goes as far back as 2004.

"Starbucks has a growing interest in Rwandan quality coffee and its people have taken an important step to visit factories and farmers with the aim of understanding better the coffee sector and to strengthen relationships with their suppliers," Kanyankole said yesterday during a meeting with officials from Starbucks.

He was hosting over 30 officials from Starbucks who arrived last week.

"Rwandan Arabica coffee began fetching high prices on the US market and has developed an edge over other coffee producers. The relationship between Rwanda and Starbucks has gone as far as opening a support centre that offers training to coffee farmers," kanyankole added.

The head of Global Coffee at Starbucks, Craig Russell, said that the company planned to construct a school and modern health centre in support of coffee farmers in Karenge sector, Rwamagana district.

"Business is very healthy despite economic difficulties," Russell said, pointing out that Starbucks intended to continue its long term business relationship with Rwandan coffee farmers.

Starbucks buys coffee from 30 countries and operates 18,000 stores in 5o countries, and in 2010, the coffeehouse began to sell high grade Rwandan coffee that is fair-trade certified in its 800 outlets in the UK.

Central bank statistics show that coffee exports jumped by 51.8 per cent to 3,436 tonnes in the first half of last year from 2264 tonnes in the same period in 2011. A kilogramme of Rwandan coffee goes for US$3.3 on the international market.

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