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BUSINESS NEWS

Kenya now brands its coffee

Coffee Board of Kenya managing director , Ms Louise Njeru , launched the Kenyan _ilaks brand logo at the KICC, Nairobi , on Friday. This is the first time Kenya has attempted to brand its coffee in the market. Photo/FREDRICK ONYANGO By MWANIKI WAHOMEPosted Friday, January 22 2010 at 22:30 IN SUMMARY Bulk exports used to blend lower quality produce by global traders

A local coffee brand was unveiled on Friday to help position the commodity in the international market. This is the first serious attempt at branding exported coffee, which is mainly used to blend other coffees to improve their aroma, colour and taste, leaving Kenyan coffee without a distinctive identity in the international market. Ethiopia and Latin America are among countries that have successfully branded their coffee. Players in the industry have said branding of local coffee will lead to higher prices internationally, and add that the commodity, which contributes about 3.5 per cent of national wealth, has the potential to contribute up to 10 per cent. Expensive We have been told in the past that Kenyan coffee should not be promoted on its own because it would be very expensive, but we now know that there are customers prepared to pay a high price for a cup of Kenyan coffee, said Agriculture permanent secretary, Dr Romano Kiome . The PS added that there are several Kenyans abroad who have expressed interest in opening coffee shops to sell pure Kenyan coffee. However, he noted the sector faced several challenges , including shrinking acreage due to development of real estate and failure by farmers to adopt modern production technologies and practices. Mr Kiome said the government had initiated many reforms in the sector since the enactment of the Coffee Act 2001, but the efforts had not yielded fruits as fast as expected. CBK boss , Ms Loise Njeru, said the sector needed to improve efficiency to match the standards of Colombia and Costa Rica, countries that Kenya is usually compared to in terms of production. Kenya contributes 0.7 per cent of coffee in the international market.

The initiative, partly funded by European Union, was done in consultation with the regulator, Coffee Board of Kenya (CBK), Coffee Research Foundation, Kenya Bureau of Standards and Kenya Industrial Property Institute .

The initiative, partly funded by European Union, was done in consultation with the regulator, Coffee Board of Kenya (CBK), Coffee Research Foundation, Kenya Bureau of Standards and Kenya Industrial Property Institute . Mr Peter Sturesson , the EU representative, said the union had contributed Sh 500 million in the improvement of the coffee sector , out of which the branding initiative was funded. The initiative is, however, a start . It is a promise of producing high quality coffee and the logo is a reliable sign, Mr Sturesson said.