The Global Market for Bird Friendly® Coffee: 2010

Executive Summary

Bird Friendly® Coffee (BFC) is the world?s most stringent shade-grown standard for coffee production, requiring that coffee is both organically grown and meets specific shade-grown criteria developed by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC) in 1997 to protect migratory songbirds. These birds are not only beautiful and sonorous, but are essential to the global ecosystem, providing flower pollination and seed dispersal, among other roles.

small bird

In 2010, approximately 1,400 producers managed more than 18,000 acres (7600 hectares) of BFC area/coffee farms and produced more than 9.7 million pounds of BFC, a 39% increase from 2009. Guatemala ranked first in terms of production (with 28% of all BFC), and, with Peru (25%), Mexico (20%), Nicaragua (15%), and Columbia (8%), the five countries account for 96% of all the BFC certified globally. The remaining 4 percent came from Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, and Venezuela. Farms in Nicaragua brought that country into the BFC program in 2010 with a large cooperative and two estate farms getting certified. (See chart 1.)

Sales of BFC rose 166% from about $1.5 million in 2005 when Japan entered the program to more than $4 million in 2010. (See graph 1.) This same period saw the US and Japanese markets neck and neck with respect to global market shares, accounting for 50% and 49% of all BFC roasted, respectively. Canada increased its volume of BFC sold, but, due to the overall growth globally in BFC sold, its percentage of the total market actually decreased from 3% to 1%. Globally, sales slowed somewhat most recently. Volume sold in 2010 was 466,000 pounds, up 3% from the 452,000 pounds moved in 2009, a reflection of the general economic times. Projections for 2011 are on track to equal or slightly exceed the sales of 2010.

Roasters globally are finding ready markets for Bird Friendly® coffee among consumers with interests in organic products in general and coffee that serves as viable habitat for birds and other organisms in particular. The volume of BFC roasted and sold in the US between 2000 and 2010 increased more than 115-fold from fewer than 2,000 pounds to 225,000 pounds. The three years from 2007 to 2010 saw an average of 25% annual increase in volume roasted and sold in the North American market, a growth mirrored globally as well.

Today, there are 46 roasters in the U.S., Canada, The Netherlands and Japan that carry Bird Friendly® coffee imported by 16 companies. Certifications are conducted by 13 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-accredited organic certification agencies. (For lists, see the end of the report.)

Given the increased awareness of the importance of protecting migratory songbirds in addition to farmers and the environment in general, as well as the interest of many roasters in getting double or triple certified to different standards that attract different consumers, SMBC estimates that sales of Bird Friendly® coffee will continue to grow into the future.

The Global Market for Bird Friendly® Coffee: 2010

Over the years, consumers have paid increased attention to the methods under which their coffees are grown, frequently searching out coffees certified to organic, Fair Trade, or other standards to try to do the right thing for the environment via the simple act of drinking a cup of coffee. Tangled up in this heightened awareness of coffee?s origins and production methods are often unsubstantiated claims of coffees being ?shade-grown,? with some companies developing their own standards, while others use standards that do not require organic certification.

Fearing ?greenwashing,? and recognizing the importance of rigorous standards that ensure consumers get what they think they are paying for, the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center of the Smithsonian National Zoological Park developed strict criteria that specify what truly constitutes a ?shade grown? coffee that provides quality habitat for birds and offers a refuge for biodiversity in general. Below is an overview of the program since its inception in the year 2000.

What is "Bird Friendly®" Coffee?

logo

Bird Friendly® Coffee (BFC) carries a seal of approval (see logo) that assures consumers the coffee has met specific criteria developed by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC). ?Bird Friendly® means the coffee is:

Criteria include: a minimum canopy height of 12 meters; a species list of at least 10 trees in addition to the major or "backbone" species; at least 40% foliage density; and three strata or layers of vegetation that provide structural diversity. Criteria apply to the coffee production area itself, and industry and certification specialists consider them to be the strictest shade standards in the world.

In many tropical regions where migratory birds have overwintered for millions of years, BFC provides viable, quality habitat in areas often devastated by deforestation.

small orange and black bird

Of the more than 150 species of songbirds that migrate to the Neo-tropics (American tropics) each year, including orioles, tanagers, warblers, and thrushes, many use these certified forest-like farms as their habitat during their months spent there. These farms also support important resident birds like toucans, becards, wood creepers and parrots.

Aside from the obvious aesthetics of their singing and striking plumage, migratory birds provide a number of ?ecological services.? They pollinate flowers, disperse seeds, and feast on insects. In both SMBC and other studies of birds in coffee, research has shown that they consume a wide variety of insects, some of them coffee pests. In Jamaica, in fact, three migratory birds (the Black-throated Blue Warbler, American Redstart and Prairie Warbler) were identified as major predators of the dreaded beetle pest of coffee known as the Coffee Berry Borer.

Under the Bird Friendly® program, shade inspections and certifications are conducted by 13 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-accredited organic certification agencies. Coffees displaying the logo come from farms that provide a habitat for migratory and resident birds, as well as a refuge for biodiversity in general.

Growers certified to the BF standards normally see price premiums of 5 to 10 cents per pound in addition to the premium they already receive for being certified organic. The SMBC receives royalty payments from roasters (more than $450,000 since the year 2000) that go to an SMBC fund used for research and education related to migratory birds in general and the coffee connection specifically. To date, these royalties have supported research projects in Alaska, California, Jamaica, Mexico and Panama. (See ?Bird Friendly Coffee Funds? at the ?Coffee? page of www.si.edu/smbc.)

The Bird Friendly® seal assures consumers that 100% of the coffee inside the bag or bin is not only certified organic, but certified shade-grown according to SMBC?s stringent criteria. The organic pre-requisite also means that the coffee meets the high standards for organic coffee production, thus protecting both workers and the environment, and providing consumers with a chemical-free beverage. And a number of roasters report that a shade-grown coffee ranks as a superior tasting product.

Where is Bird Friendly® coffee grown?

More than 96% of BFC comes from small and large coffee farms in Central and South America. Producing countries include (in alphabetical order) Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, and Venezuela. Since 2007, BFC has also come from Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee. (See chart 1).

Some 1,400 producers currently manage more than 18,000 acres (7,600 hectares) of BFC area/coffee farms and produced more than 9 million pounds of BFC in the 2010/2011 harvest year. Guatemala ranked first in terms of production (with 28% of all BFC), and, with Peru (25%), Mexico (20%), Nicaragua (15%), and Columbia (8%), the five countries account for 96% of all the BFC certified globally. The remaining 4 percent came from Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, and Venezuela. Farms in Nicaragua brought that country into the BFC program with a large cooperative and two estate farms getting certified.

Chart 1: Producing Countries (% of total production) 2010

Two-dimensional pie chart with 6 segments where segment colors are interpolated from dark to pale orange

The Latin American focus of the Bird Friendly program flows out of the SMBC?s mission to focus on migratory birds of the Western Hemisphere. The criteria, however, being bio-physical in nature, can be applied to other regions. Efforts to explore and expand BFC?s reach into Indonesia, India and The Philippines, as well as other African countries, are part of the long-range goals of the program. Initial forays into Sumatra?s Aceh region are awaiting results for a BFC there, and plans for workshops and presentations from SMBC staff in India may result in farms in the Western Ghats region soon coming into the BFC program.

Who Drinks Bird Friendly® Coffee?

There are currently 46 roasters in the US, Canada, the Netherlands and Japan that carry Bird Friendly® coffees. (See attached list and the ?Coffee? link at www.si.edu/smbc.) They are providing coffee-loving birdwatchers, environmentalists, and others concerned about good land stewardship with a direct connection to conservation.

Estimated sales of BFC rose from about $1.5 million in 2005 (when Japan entered the program) to more than $4 million in 2010 (assuming $9 per pound). This same period ended with North America sharing the stage with Japan, placing these markets in a dead heat in accounting for 50% and 49%, respectively, of the global BFC sales. Both the Netherlands and Canada bring in the remaining 1%, but also show growth in the absolute volume being moved. (See graph 1.)

The volume of BFC roasted and sold in the US between 2000 and 2010 increased more than 115-fold, from fewer than 2,000 pounds to 227,000 pounds. Roasters from Haarlem to Toronto to Tokyo and all across the US are finding ready markets for Bird Friendly® coffees, particularly among consumers with interests in organic products and coffee that serves as viable habitat for birds and other organisms.

Some of the strongest retail market is in the Pacific Northwest, where Fred Meyer, a super-market chain of some 130 stores based in Portland, OR, offers BFC prominently in its organic food section. Since 2008 alone, the volume of BF coffee sold at their stores has increased 23%, with more than 138,000 pounds being sold in 2010. Other sales outlets include Whole Foods and numerous independent caf?s, college campuses, and independent retailers.

Bird Friendly® coffee (from Golden Valley Farms in West Chester, PA) is the coffee currently served at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park restaurants, and S&D Roasters of Concord, NC provides BF coffee in the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall in Washington, DC. S+D Coffee has recently acquired an account with High?s of Baltimore to have BFC served in its 48 convenience stores (High?s Dairy) across Maryland. As a roaster with national accounts, S+D and the SMBC will be working together at various events to increase the profile of BFC across the country.

In addition, Golden Valley Farms is providing Howdy?s convenience stores in Texas, The Golden Pantry in Georgia, and the rest stops along Florida?s Turnpike with BFC, supplying a growing base of environmentally concerned consumers with a taste for good coffee. Universities and office coffee service in the Philadelphia area have also opted to serve BFC roasted by Golden Valley Farms. As word spreads about the importance of certified shade and organic coffee?s role in biodiversity protection, and the high standards of the Bird Friendly® coffee program, consumers should expect to see more of this market-place link to conservation on their store shelves, in their institutions and offered in restaurants.

Other roasters and efforts like the stalwart Caffe Ibis in Utah (one of the first BFC roasters) and the relatively new Birds & Beans (a joint effort in both the US and Canada) are key players in the SMBC?s quest to showcase the environmental dimensions of coffee to the world?s consumers. Reuter?s recently ranked Caffe Ibis?s ?triple certified? coffee line (organic, fair trade and BF) as ?The World?s Most Sustainable Coffee?, a quality recognized along with its overall quality by clients ranging from the family-owned Harmon?s Market in Utah to the posh luxury resort/spa known as the Waldorf Astoria of Park City, UT. And one of these ?triple cert? coffees has now been used by Grand Teton Brewing of Idaho in the creation of a porter called ?Wake Up Call.?

Birds & Beans in Massachusetts has targeted the bird-watching community and obtained a list of conservation partners that includes Massachusetts Audubon, New Hampshire Audubon, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, among others. Of great note is the recommendation by the oldest and largest organization in the New World devoted to the scientific study of birds - The American Ornithological Union - to its membership and others of Bird Friendly certified coffees. The AOU appreciates the independent, science-based inspection and certification process developed by the SMBC. Most recently, Jim?s Organic Coffees of Massachusetts has joined the BFC program, an addition that promises to expand the US market for BFC across the lower forty-eight states.

A growing market in Canada, led by the Toronto-based Birds and Beans, is exemplified by consumers there attracted to the linkage between birds and coffee beginning in 2003. A number of Whole Foods supermarkets, Wild Bird Unlimited stores, and an array of other establishments that includes cafes, bed and breakfasts, and restaurants in the Toronto area and beyond make up the customer list for their BF coffees. Over the past two years for which there are data (2008-2010), Birds & Beans has targeted coffee (and bird) lovers with BFC, increasing its sales more than 145% during that period.

In Japan, where BFC entered the market in 2005, volume increased more than 8,000% between 2005 and 2010, from 2,700 pounds to more than 221,000 pounds. Sumitomo Corporation imports the coffee, supplying three major roasters: Ogawa Coffee, Camel Coffee, and Ueshima Coffee (UCC).

In the Netherlands, that country?s largest roaster (Simon-Levelt) began marketing BFC in the spring of 2009. Its 33 coffee shops around the country, as well as one in Belgium, now offer Bird Friendly® coffee to consumers there.

With much of BF coffee being grown by small producers organized into cooperatives, these coffees are often certified as Fair Trade as well. Companies such as Utah-based Caffe Ibis has long been a Bird Friendly® provider and finds that ?triple-certified? coffees (organic, Fair Trade, Bird Friendly®) appeal to a growing segment of the coffee consuming world.

BF coffee is available across the nation and around the world. The ?Coffee? link at www.si.edu/smbc provides a list of roasters and outlets, many of which offer BFC for sale online.

Graph 1: Volume of Bird Friendly® Coffee in the North American and Japanese Markets, 2000-2011

Vertical bar chart with two data sets: one data set is colored in dark blue the second is stacked in pale blue

Background of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center

The SMBC, now 20 years old, is a research unit within the Smithsonian Institution?s National Zoological Park?and an integral unit within the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute—charged with conducting research and educational outreach related to neo-tropical migratory bird conservation. Senior scientists, along with support staff, work towards (as their mission statement reads) ?fostering greater understanding, appreciation, and protection of the grand phenomenon of bird migration.?

BIRD FRIENDLY® COFFEE ROASTERS

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BIRD FRIENDLY® COFFEE IMPORTERS

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BIRD FRIENDLY® COFFEE CERTIFYING AGENCIES

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Written by Robert Rice