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Uganda earns close to $1bn in 2023 from coffee export

Uganda earns close to $1bn in 2023 from coffee export

January 4 - 2024

Coffee Geography Magazine


The good harvest year which increased the volume of production and improved coffee prices during the second half of the year in 2023, helps Uganda to achieve earning close to $1 billion USD. Coffee is Uganda's top-earning export commodity. In 1989 Uganda's coffee production capacity exceeded its quota of 2.3 million bags, but export volumes were still diminished by economic and security problems, and large amounts of coffee beans were still being smuggled out of Uganda for sale in neighboring countries. Uganda is one of the few countries in the world with indigenous coffee, with Robusta coffee growing wild around Lake Victoria.

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Coffee production remained low during the late 1980s, rising from 1,000 tons in 1986 to only 5,000 tons in 1989. The Uganda Coffee Development Authority was formed in 1991 by government decree, in line with the liberalization of the coffee industry.

Robusta coffee grows natively in the Kampala forest area and the Lake Victoria Crescent. From 1999 to 2002 an effort was made to commercialize this coffee as a premium consumer brand, emulating and extending the success of shade grown in Central America. The Kibale Wild Coffee Project, an initiative that involved international organizations such as the World Bank and United States Agency for International Development, aimed to implement sustainable harvest of coffee from Uganda's natural reserves and guarantee compensation for all workers involved in the harvest. Revenue from the coffee production was intended to finance conservation management activities.

Total coffee export revenues rose from $883.3 million during the period November 2021-October 2022 to $952.24 million during the period November 2022-October 2023 according to latest data published by the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA). 

Total coffee production similarly rose from 5.83 million, 60-kilogramme bags to 6.16 million, 60-kilogramme bags during the same period. 

Robusta coffee harvests retained dominance in the production basket, accounting for more than 70 percent of the country’s overall coffee output. 

Local coffee prices experienced notable growth during the second half of 2023; a sign of rising global demand and positive quality assessments tied to the country’s coffee crop. Average coffee prices for Robusta Kiboko coffee stood at Ush3,900 ($1.03) per kilogramme in October 2023 while Fair Average Quality Robusta coffee fetched Ush7,650 ($2) per kilo during the same period.

The average market price for Arabica parchment stood at Ush9,250 ($2.45) per kilo in October while Drugar fetched Ush8,250 ($2.20) per kilo, the UCDA report shows.

Competition among coffee buyers apparently triggered a slight decline in the overall muscle attributed to dominant, overseas coffee traders. 

The top 10 buyers held a market share of 67 percent of total exports, lower than 71 percent the previous month. Louis Dreyfus led with a market share of 13.93 percent compared with 8.93 percent in September 2023. There were changes in the relative positions of the first 10 major buyers reflecting competition among buyers due to continued demand for Uganda coffee abroad. 

Other leading foreign coffee buyers in the Ugandan market are Sucafina with an 11.02 percent market share followed by Volcafe with 8.7 percent. Olam International holds a 7.37 percent market share in the foreign coffee buyers’ market while Bernhard Rothfos holds a 6.86 percent share.

Italy is the largest consumer of Uganda coffee with a 28.95 percent share of volumes followed by Germany with 17.19 percent inOctober 2023. Others include Spain, India and Algeria with market share of 9.74 percent, 7.4 percent and 5.56 percent respectively. 

Erratic supply patterns, climate change and increased domestic coffee consumption in some leading producer countries led to higher coffee prices during the second half of 2023. For example, Brazil produces about 60 million bags of coffee per year but is delivering only 18 million bags to the international market today while the balance is consumed locally. Uganda coffee output levels and export revenues might remain quite stable next year because of reasonable demand patterns in the international market towards Ugandan coffee. 

Kyagalanyi Coffee Ltd was ranked the country’s biggest coffee exporter with a market share of 16.39 percent by end of October 2023 followed by Louis Dreyfus Company Uganda Ltd with a 14.01 percent market share. 

Other leading exporters are Ugacof Uganda Ltd with a 10.66 percent market share while Ideal Quality Commodities Ltd holds a 9.15 percent market share. Olam Uganda Ltd held a market share of 7.37 percent by close of October 2023.