Vietnam – the world’s largest robusta coffee producer.
Vietnam has a right to be proud of its rank when it is the world’s top producer and exporter of robusta coffee, accounting for around 70 percent of the total robusta volume purchased worldwide. Thanks to its affordable cost and frequently available sources, Vietnamese robusta coffee has played an extremely important role in the supply chain for many large coffee roasters like Nestlé.
Vietnam robusta production at a glance.
Additionally, the area of cultivation of robusta in Vietnam is densely concentrated on the southern Central Highlands with Lam Dong, Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Daklak and Daknong provinces included. Otherwise, Dongnai, a province located in the middle of Saigon and the Central Highlands is also an important robusta-planting area. Especially, Buon Ma Thuot, the capital city of Daklak province, has contributed a majority of robusta to the success of Vietnamese coffee industry to become world’s number one robusta exporter as well as world’s second coffee exporter in general, just stepping behind Brazil over the last 12 years. With approximately ninety-five percent of robusta in the total coffee plantation, Vietnam specializes in yielding robusta, which is commonly used for blending with arabica and extracting instant coffees. The highest average productivity of every Vietnam robusta coffee farm is about 2-3 metric tons of robusta cherries per hectare (similar to 2,000 pounds per acre). Robusta crop only takes place once a year and harvest season is the period between October and the end of September the year later.
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How is Vietnam robusta processed?
On the other hand, the most common processing method applied to Vietnam robusta is the dry method. By this way, coffee cherries are dried under the sunlight or machinery. Next, the dried cherries are stored in the plastic bags and kept at home for future sale. The name “robusta” reflects the characteristics owned by this type of coffee when “robust” means strong and able-bodied. So, one of the main reasons why robusta was preferredly grown in Vietnam is that it is much more easy-planting and productive than other types of coffee.
New opportunities for Vietnamese robusta?
Since global economy has been going down recent years, Vietnamese robusta is gaining a big opportunity to develop. The world’s economic crisis has had a positive effect on the robusta coffee industry when Western’s local coffee manufacturers are trying to find and use alternative resources which are of more affordable prices to maintain their costs as low as possible. As a result of high cost in arabica, robusta is preferred to utilize as a main ingredient by roasting businesses because of various bitter and less costly features that has pushed the demand of robusta in a great amount. It is rooted in emerging markets like Indonesia, Vietnam, Mexico and Thailand where the trend of coffee consumption moves to the use of instant coffee products. Actually, the gap between the price of arabica and robusta has been closer than before, from 300 percent to 30 percent in gap in recent 3 years and it is predicted that the price of robusta will have potential to overcome that of arabica if this trend continues.
At the present, Daklak, Lam Dong and Dak Nong provinces are still putting efforts to expand plantation areas, especially robusta-growing areas which account for nearly 58 percent of the area under coffee crop.
In summary, Vietnam plants a lot of robusta coffee. With the export volume of around 1.5 to 1.7 million tons of robusta coffee per annum, Vietnam has already come to the position of world’s 2nd largest coffee producer. However, the pricing of Vietnamese robusta is still low and cheap. It can be increased in the near future thanks to global economic slow-down which forces western coffee roasters to increase the percentage of robusta inside their blending to maintain competitive price. This trend seems to be very far to become real.