Producers continue to strive for international recognition
ALISO VIEJO, Calif. (March 31, 2022) Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) announces the second annual green coffee competition in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. This event will take place in April, and the winners will be announced in late May. The event is part of The United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) funded CLEAN Project, implemented by Winrock International, that is working to improve the agricultural sector with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), the Lao Department of Agriculture (DOA) and the Laos Coffee Association (LCA).
This year, the competition will culminate in an on-line auction to connect owners of the top lots with international green buyers. The auction is supported through the Arise Plus Laos PDR project, funded by the European Union and implemented by the International Trade Centre. Arise Plus is working to increase trade and participation in global value chains for the Laos coffee sector.
“This coffee competition is designed to identify and promote the best quality coffees in Laos,” offered Winrock International Chief of Party Alex Dahan, for Winrock in Laos. “The last year’s inaugural competition gave Lao PDR a terrific starting place, and we were pleased to be able to identify and promote some really high-quality coffees.”
“We garnered attention domestically and internationally. This year we are a little more experienced, with another year of good coffee practices under our belt, and we know that this competition will benefit coffee growers by discerning some truly wonderful coffees. And this year we are able to offer something we didn’t have last year – an online auction so these coffees can truly go to market and get the attention they deserve. Last year, the first competition attracted the attention of domestic and international markets, and this benefited Laos producers, market actors and coffee businesses. The competition has proven to be a valuable process to motivate producers to improve their quality and promote their coffees to specialty buyers. The addition of a professional on-line auction will make this year’s event more impactful.”
Yuni Coffee Co., LTD, located in the northeast province of Houaphan, will once again provide in-country support for coffee collection, initial screening, and shipping to the judges. Steve Patton and Tyler Gant, owners/Directors of Yuni Coffee are excited to once again extend their experience, partnership and support to farmers in other regions of the country through this competition. “Yuni Coffee is happy for the world to have a chance to taste and understand the quality potential from this relatively unknown region.”
“Lao coffee producers are motivated to continue improve processes,” added Dahan. “It won’t be long until everyone knows what we do, that the combination of craftmanship and the right environment will produce consistently excellent coffees that will be widely sought after. That pride is justified, and we’re grateful and want to thank our partners and the coffee farmers for participating in this competition again.”
CQI organizes competitions to create excitement about emerging markets and has seen success with these events in the past. COVID has added different challenges, though, and competitions have been re-tooled to be virtual. This year, Laos coffee will be screened by a panel of international judges, organized by CQI.
“It is wonderful to see farmers rewarded with attention and sales after one of these events,” said Lisa Conway, senior director of operations for Coffee Quality Institute. She helped develop and execute similar competitions in Myanmar and the Philippines. “We had hoped to send a team of CQI judges to the Bolaven Plateau this season and conduct the competition in person. With COVID still standing as a major barrier to in-person work, we adapted once again -- this year we are working with two different grading hubs, one in Dubai and one in the USA. The judges will receive the coded samples from Laos, be calibrated by CQI and then get to work tasting and ranking the samples. We anticipate 50 specialty arabica and fine robusta samples this year. We want this competition to shine a spotlight on the coffee produced by Lao farmers. They produce great coffee, but it is almost unknown outside of Laos. It’s time to change that!”
Mr. Bounchan Kombounyasith , newly appointed Director General, Department of Agriculture (DOA), “is delighted once again to be supporting the Laos Coffee Competition and the Auction. In line with the Lao PDR Coffee Sector Export Roadmap (2021-2025) strategy, this competition, carried out in harmony with stakeholders and donors, is supporting the development of the Lao Coffee Sector as a specialty coffee source and will help ensure that activities sustain quality standards and phytosanitary measures for export to the US, Europe and Asian markets and better income for farmers”.
Dr Soulaphone Inthavong, Deputy Director General of the Department of Agriculture- MAF and the National Project Director of the project for the Reinforcement and Expansion of the Lao Coffee Sector in Laos (RECoSeL) AFD funded project has stressed “The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has been cooperating with AFD for the development of the Lao coffee sector since 1998, through several projects articulated around research, farmers’ organizations development and the elaboration of sector policies. In the frame of this competition, the MAF is looking forward to seeing further growth to the specialty coffee sector in Lao PDR to benefit the smallholder farmers and value the support for the past years of the CLEAN Project”
Ms. Bounheuang Carol Litdang, President, Lao Coffee Association (LCA) support numerous activities and initiatives to improve Lao PDR’s coffee sector which has a strong potential for growth through initiative such as the Lao Coffee Competition & Auction 2022. LCA’s main role is to bring activities and initiatives to their members to promote high quality standards to meet international market demands.
Mr. Benjamin Barutzki, member of the Specialty Coffee Working Group (SCAL) “We want to ensure the sustainable development of a Specialty Coffee sector in Laos by establishing guidelines and providing technical advice to support more Lao coffee producers to successfully compete in the coffee competitions worldwide. Laos Green Coffee Competition & Auction 2022 will give us a great opportunity to provide input and support the participants in their endeavor.”
Thanks to Lao Coffee Competition and Auction 2022, Lao coffee businesses are encouraged to improve products quality and create business networking with international buyers. The auction, which is promoted to global coffee buyers, offers a chance to showcase the specialty coffees available from Laos giving exposure to the coffee industry as a whole and to the different coffee producers and exporters participating in the competition and auction. The direct connection with buyers through the auction means that producers and exporters have the possible opportunity to discover new buyers in new markets which they can go on to form longer term business relationships beyond the auction. ITC’s ARISE Plus Lao PDR project is honored being a partner supporting this important event.