Mzuzu Coffee Planters Cooperative Union Limited, producers of Mzuzu Coffee, have said they are exporting the commodity worth $4 million (about K3 billion) annually.
In an interview on Friday in Mzuzu, the firm’s executive director Harrison Kalua said they are exporting about 500 tonnes of coffee annually to markets in Europe, United States, Asia and other parts of Africa.
“We have managed to put Mzuzu Coffee on the world map. We have not targeted China yet, but as the volumes go up, we plan to export to China,” he said.
Behind the glossy packaging and unique flavour of the Mzuzu Coffee, grown in Misuku Hills, is a story of hard work which has brought the specialty coffee to the United Kingdom (UK).
A few years ago, Mzuzu coffee started being sold in Sainsbury, the second largest chain of supermarkets in the UK.
Kalua said the firm exported 530 tonnes of coffee last year, up from the previous year’s 460 tonnes, signifying growing demand for the local commodity on the global market.
Locally, the company sells 30 tonnes of coffee, but plans top ramp up the sales to around 100 tonnes.
The volumes have grown from about one tonne 20 years ago, according to Kalua.
The cooperative works with 3 000 smallholder farmers with each having 2 500 trees on average.
According to information on the cooperative’s website, it has been getting premiums of 100 cents (about K733) per pound for the grade AAA and AA coffee, 70 cents (K513) per pound for AB grade and 65 cents (K476) per pound for PBC grades.
This is a result of good quality procedures that the cooperative applies on the production as well as quality control checks.
Experts say coffee has the potential to bring in about $200 million (K147 billion) per year if grown on a large-scale.
According to www.twin.org.uk, three years ago, Twin, a UK-based Fairtrade organisation, joined forces with Sainsbury’s and Finlays, one of the world’s largest producers of coffee, to develop two new African specialty grade coffees from Malawi, and strengthen the capacity of smallholder coffee producers in marginalised regions.
Coffee exports start from August/September up to March/April, according to Mzuzu Coffee Planters Cooperative Union Limited.