Monday, August 10, 2009

Papia New Guinea coffee urged to shift focus from production to marketing

Tiri Kuimbakul…shift from coffee production to marketing
Ripe red coffee cherries in the Highlands. – Picture by CIC
PNG made coffee products..among the best in the world but must be aggressively marketed.-Picture by CIC

Prominent economist and author Tiri Kuimbakul has called on the Papua New Guinea coffee industry to shift its focus from production to marketing.
Mr Kuimbakul, a former industry affairs general manager with the Coffee Industry Corporation and now a private consultant, said the industry had placed too much emphasis on research and extension over the last 20 years with no increase in production.
Figures show that production has stagnated over the past 20 years at one million bags, despite the fact that the industry has invested millions of kina into research and extension.
He made these comments after a presentation by PNG agriculture expert, Dr Mike Burke of the Australian National University, who said at last week’s National Development Forum that growers were getting better return for fresh vegetables such as kaukau.
“My view is that for the industry to move forward, there needs to be a shift in focus and emphasis from production to marketing, in particular, overseas promotion of PNG coffee,” Mr Kuimbakul said.
“What is important to the growers is the price.
“If they receive good prices for their coffee, they will continue to produce.
“If they feel that the prices that they’re getting for their coffee is not sufficient, they will simply neglect their coffee gardens, and even uproot their trees to plant food crops.
“From Dr Mike Bourke’s presentation, he showed that the returns to labour from coffee production are lower than fresh produce, in particular, kaukau.
“What the growers are faced with now is shortage of land due to population pressures, so they have to decide between coffee and other crops.
“Generally, food crops offer better prices than coffee.
“That’s why growers are responding by allocating more land and labour to producing these other crops and neglecting coffee.”
“So if we’re going to move the industry forward, coffee has to give better prices to growers.”
Mr Kuimbakul’s suggestion is that PNG coffee be aggressively marketed on the world stage.
“The only way that growers can receive better prices on a sustainable basis is for the industry to sell PNG coffee to international markets at better prices,” he said.
“We can get better prices only if we promote PNG coffee.
“PNG coffee is among the best in the world, but most consumers are not really aware of what PNG can offer.
“Other producing countries like Kenya, Columbia and Jamaica attract the best prices in the world because they have spent millions on promotion.
“This is why consumers perceive their coffee as of high quality, so they pay very high prices.
“I have tasted coffee from these countries, and PNG coffee is even better, but we get lousy prices because our coffee is no well-known.
“Basically, what I’m saying is that we shift from production to marketing.
“We’ve got to go out and tell the world what PNG has to offer, focusing on emerging markets like Japan, South Korea and China.
“Let’s create a demand for our coffee.
“When demand increases, prices will rise and growers will respond by increasing production.
“We want to increase production, but not by doing what we’ve been doing all this time.
“Let’s change the strategy, give growers better prices, and they will give us better coffee.


  1. IslandMeri5:19 PM

    A few years ago a TV programme in the US featured PNG coffee as a gourmet coffee which means that it has a niche. It's worth finding out from this programme what responses/feedback was received from their viewers. I think that marketing now is not as we used to know it. Part of the marketing strategy if not all of it should be online. Exactly what you and I and millions of others are doing - telling our own stories and sharing our experiences online. The same principle applies to marketing now adays. If the market does not come to you find a way to capture the market. The reach of online marketing is now much wider and deeper than ever before. Power to olgeta!

  2. Thanks for your supportive comments, Island Meri. Fully endorse your comments. We can all help in out own little ways to help our great motherland, Papua New Guinea.