Economics

Top 10 Coffee Importing European Union Countries

Europe is the world's biggest market for coffee producers.

Europe is the biggest market for coffee producers in the world, accounting for 33% of the world’s coffee consumption in 2018. Asia and Oceania are ranked second with a market share of 22%. Latin America and North America come in third and fourth with 20% and 19% respectively. According to data from Eurostat, Germany is the largest consumer of coffee in Europe, accounting for 26% of total consumption. Other significant markets in the EU include Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Europe’s demand for coffee is expected to remain stable over the long-term as the market becomes saturated. The market will, however, remain attractive to coffee exporters across the word. 

Germany

In 2017, the nation imported 1,065,255 tonnes of coffee, nearly twice as much as Italy, which is ranked second. In 2015, Germany’s per capita coffee consumption was 14.3 pounds per year, well above the EU average 11.9 pounds per year. The country, however, lies behind Nordic countries on per capita coffee consumption. Countries such as Finland and Sweden have a per capita coffee consumption of 26.5 pounds per year and 15.4 pounds per year, respectively. German coffee consumers prefer Arabica coffee that is lightly roasted. In line with the preference, German demand has shifted towards mild flavors in the Arabica group and Brazilian Naturals. About 24.6% of Germans in 2016 consumed coffee daily. Germany is also a major hub for coffee re-exports. In 2017, the country’s share of re-exports was 53%. Green coffee re-exports in 2017 were 348,000 tonnes. The leading destination for re-exports was Poland and the US with 91,000 tonnes and 78,000 tonnes respectively. In 2017, the exports were valued at 987 million euros. 

Italy

Italy is the second-largest coffee importer in Europe, accounting for 17% of Europe’s entire imports in 2018. In 2017, the country imported 552,285 tonnes of coffee. The country is also the most significant green coffee importer in the world and the second-largest producer and exporter of coffee in Europe after Germany. Italian coffee consumption had gone up considerably since 1995 when coffee consumption was just 253,000 tonnes compared to 606,000 tonnes consumed in 2018. Brazil, India, and Vietnam are the main coffee suppliers accounting for 64% of all coffee imports. Most coffee beans enter the country via the Port of Trieste and Port of Genoa. Over the years, coffee imports have been on the rise. From 2014 to 2018, imports grew at an average annual rate of 3.2%. In 2016, Italy’s total coffee imports consisted of Robusta (38%) and Arabica (62%). The county has a strong roasting industry that consumes about 98% of green coffee imports. Some of the main coffee roasters in the country include Illycaffe, Kimbo, Lavazza, and Massimo Zanetti. In 2018, Italy exported 221,000 tonnes of coffee, accounting for 22% of the total European market. The main export destinations were Germany (20%), France (9.5%), and the UK (5.9%).

Belgium

 In 2018, Belgium imported 276,000 tonnes of green coffee valued at 606 million euros accounting for 8.7% of Europe’s total green coffee imports from producing countries. From 2014 to 2018, imports grew at an average rate of 2% annually. Per capita, coffee consumption in Belgium is estimated to be 15 pounds per year. Small coffee houses have increased significantly in major cities such as Brussels and Antwerp. Belgium also serves as a significant international coffee hub. The significant amount of coffee traded in the world goes through the Port of Antwerp, which is used as a transit and storage site. It is considered the largest coffee storage site in the world, with an estimated 250,000 tonnes stored at a time. The port accounts for 50% of Europe’s entire coffee logistics business. Belgium is also a major re-exporter. In 2018, the country re-exported 219,000 tonnes of coffee with a market value of 497 million euros. The country mainly re-exports to the Netherlands, which accounts for 60% of all Belgian green coffee re-exports. Other significant markets are France (22%), and Germany (5.5%). From 2014 to 2018, export volumes grew by about 7.8%.

Spain

In 2017, Spain imported 238,817 tonnes of coffee, making it the fourth-largest coffee importer in Europe. Coffee is part of Spain’s gastronomic culture and can be consumed at any time of the day. The annual coffee consumption for the average Spaniard is 9.9 pounds, which is below the European average of 11.9 pounds per year. Spain consumes an estimated 14 billion cups of coffee each year, translating to 600 cups per person each year. The traditional import of low-quality coffee has set the quality bar very low in the country, but demand for higher–quality coffee has been increasing over the years. Various forms of certification, including Organic, Rain Forest, and Fair Trade, have contributed to the improvement in the quality of coffee purchases.

France

In 2017, France imported 216,998 tonnes of coffee. The country is regarded as a mature coffee market that has a long coffee consumption tradition. Over the past couple of years, concerns about the effects of caffeine on overall health have put considerable pressure on the French coffee sector. Larger companies in the country focus primarily on providing their customers with coffee in convenient single-serving packaging. Smaller companies, on the other hand, are exploring the specialty coffee market. The average per capita coffee consumption is 11.2 pounds, which is close to the European average.

United Kingdom

In recent years coffee consumption has been rising in the United Kingdom (a state that is known for its long tradition of tea consumption as its preferred hot beverage). In 2017, the country imported 161,492 tonnes of coffee, making it the sixth-largest coffee importer in Europe. The coffee market in the United Kingdom grows at an average rate of 10% yearly. Despite being one of the largest coffee markets on the continent, per capita consumption is relatively low. The average Briton consumes about 7.3 pounds of coffee per year. Among coffee consumers, instant coffee is the most preferred, particularly among the older generations.

Sweden

In 2017, Sweden imported 98,359 tonnes of coffee, making the country the seventh-largest coffee importer in the continent. The country has the second-highest per capita coffee consumption in Europe with an average of 3.2 cups of coffee per person per day, which is just behind Finland that consumes 3.5 cups of coffee per person per day. The demand for specialty coffee is growing rapidly. Swedes are known to be critical of coffee served abroad, which, by comparison, is weaker than Swedish coffee. Tourists are often warned about taking Swedish coffee as its strength is believed to cause palpitations and malady. 

Finland

Finland has the highest per capita coffee consumption rate in the world at 26.5 pounds of coffee per year. The country imports nearly all its coffee from developing nations with Brazil as its leading supplier. In 2017, the country imported 66,587 tonnes of coffee. Consumers in the country focus on the quality and variety of coffee. A significant amount of imports are re-exported to Russia as green or roasted coffee. In 2017, the green coffee re-exports amounted to 7.1 thousand tonnes representing only 1.1% of Europe’s entire exporting markets. From 2013 to 2017, the volume of re-exports increased by 32% while the value increased by 22%. Paulig, Finland’s main coffee roaster is the second-largest supplier of coffee in Russia.

Netherlands

The Netherlands is categorized as a medium-sized coffee market. In 2017, the country imported 54,939 tonnes of coffee. Similar to other European countries, consumers in the Netherlands are increasingly shifting towards convenient and high-quality fresh coffee. The country, which has a population of approximately 17 million people, accounted for 4% of the EU’s green coffee consumption in 2015. The Netherlands has a per capita coffee consumption rate of 11.7 pounds per year, which is close to the European average. The Dutch take (espresso) blends of Robusta and Arabica. Arabica coffee takes up 60% of the market share.

Portugal

In 2017, Portugal imported 45,968 tonnes of coffee. The per capita coffee consumption rate is 9.5 pounds per year. Portugal has one of the highest coffee shop concentration rates in Europe, with an impressive 41.6 coffee shops per 10,000 people, which is an indication of the significance of coffee in the country. Coffee is an important part of the daily lifestyle in Portugal, with people having many cafes from which they can choose to enjoy the hot drink. A high number of tourists in the country also means that the coffee shop business is very popular and profitable.

Trends In The European Coffee Market

The coffee market in Europe is mature but is also constantly evolving. Ready to-drink, specialty coffees, and single-serve methods are increasingly growing in popularity. Sustainability is also becoming a concern among industry stakeholders with retailers and buyers using certification to promote sustainability. There is also a growing demand for transparency and traceability through the value chain. In recent years the European market has also been hit by two consumer demand waves. In the 2010s, the market experienced a growing demand for higher-quality coffee, with consumers focusing on particular taste attributes. The wave was characterized as the “coffee-like-wine” consumer attitude. Currently, the European market is experiencing a wave that has been called “the science of coffee.” Consumers are demonstrating a need to understand the intrinsic characteristic of coffee beans and the influence of preparation on the final taste.

 

Top 10 Coffee Importing European Union Countries

RankCountryCoffee imports by EU member states in 2017 (in tonnes)
1Germany1,065,255
2Italy 552,285
3Belgium268,151
4Spain238,817
5France216,998
6United Kingdom161,492
7Sweden98,359
8Finland66,587
9Netherlands54,935
10Portugal45,968

About the Author

  • Benjamin Elisha Sawe
  • Writer

Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor. 

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