- African Growth and Opportunity Act
TRALAC - Trade Law Centre
You are here: Home/Downloads/Documents & Reports/US end-market analysis for Kenyan speciality coffee

US end-market analysis for Kenyan speciality coffee

East Africa Trade and Investment Hub
Publication Date
06 December 2017

The United States of America (U.S.) is the largest market for coffee in the world. Within the U.S. coffee sector, the specialty coffee industry imports almost 750 million kilograms (kg) of green, specialty-grade coffee from around the world each year, often paying double the commodity price. Specialty-grade coffees are identified by their high-quality, unique taste characteristics and countries of origin. They are roasted by one of 1,400 U.S. roasters and distributed to hundreds of thousands of coffeehouses, supermarkets, restaurants, and specialty stores. Whether prepared by retailers or sold in bulk packages for self-preparation at home or in the workplace, 35 million Americans drink specialty-grade traditional coffee on a daily basis.

As geographic origin plays a major role in the taste and body characteristics of specialty coffee, it can be broadly distinguished by growing region – Latin America, Asia/Pacific or Africa. East Africa currently contributes about 4 percent to the volume of annual U.S. green Arabica imports, the predominant species of specialty-grade coffee. Imports from Kenya alone account for about 6 percent. While Kenya could improve issues related to the price and volume of quality production, the country has historically had a reputation for quality and continues to compare favorably with other countries. In fact, Kenyan AA1 was the first single-origin coffee widely identified by its origin name in the early days of the U.S. specialty coffee movement. As a coffeehouse staple, it was often the only African coffee represented.

However, in 2016, Kenya was ranked third among U.S. green Arabica imports from East Africa, a drop from the previous year, placing it behind Ethiopia and Uganda. With Kenya’s shift in producer demographics toward a higher proportion of smallholder farmers, weak extension support has led to reduced coffee quality and production levels five times lower than those of estate farmers. Despite Kenya being well regarded for its transparent and professional coffee systems, some regulatory costs and fees may be higher than the value they create. This diminished competitiveness is especially concerning with Kenyan prices being 38 percent higher than those of regional neighbors. Smallholder cooperative societies are plagued by inefficiency and mis-management. This undermines the capacity of smallholder farmers to increase yields of high-quality coffee and reduce production and processing costs. Kenyan specialty coffee is offered by almost all major U.S. specialty coffee importers. However, Kenya needs to establish a focused communications and marketing strategy to engage buyers directly and market itself actively to all industry stakeholders.

If Kenya wants to enhance its participation in the U.S. specialty coffee industry and bolster its reputation as a global specialty coffee leader, it needs to achieve certain objectives. It could improve extension services and support to smallholder farmers, enhance price competitiveness, strengthen existing U.S. trade linkages, and reinvigorate U.S. industry appreciation for Kenyan specialty coffee. By achieving these objectives, Kenya can regain its role as the most well-known and identifiable African specialty coffee in the U.S. specialty coffee industry.

Share this article
DOWNLOAD: US end-market analysis for Kenyan speciality coffee
Click the image to download or view the document.

Read related news articles

Kenya President Ruto joins US-Kenya business roadshow in San Francisco

Kenya's President William Ruto will address leading US technology companies and investors on Friday at the US-Kenya Business Roadshow in San Francisco organised by the American government’s Prosper Africa initiative. The roadshow - also co-organised by the US Embassy in Nairobi - highlights the business and investment potential in Kenya’s booming tech sector, a statement from the US Embassy in Kenya said. The event is part of a...

15 September 2023

AGOA boosts Kenya's textile exports to US, sector sees 7.2% growth

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has benefitted Kenya’s textile and apparel sector, leading to monthly exports to the tune of Sh4.5 billion, or Sh150 million per day, last year, according to a study by London-based Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA). The programme has had a positive impact on the country’s export-processing zones (EPZs), especially in the textile and garment sector. Kenya is the second-largest exporter of...

08 August 2023

Kenya's president meets US delegates on trade and investments

Kenyan President William Ruto has today held talks with US Trade Representative, Ambassador Katherine Tai. The discussions were based on US trade policy. Ruto said that the country is ready to strengthen the already existing relations between the two nations. "We will stretch our ties beyond the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in the wake of advanced technology and climate change, for the full exploitation of our trade potential,"...

19 July 2023

US trade rep in Nairobi as Kenya's solo deals worry the EAC block [incl. Readouts]

The US trade representative is in Nairobi to co-lead a meeting that seeks Kenya's partnership in a fresh trade deal. The Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA Council) is pursuing various agreements even as regional peers express concern over Kenya's solo approach.  Yesterday, Trade Representative, Katherine Tai met patron circle members of the American Chamber of Commerce-Kenya (AmCham Kenya) ahead of today's...

17 July 2023

US boosts Kenya apparel industry with $55m in new trade deals

The US is giving Kenya $55 million for expansion of export processing zones in a move that will boost Nairobi’s apparel exports. US initiative Prosper Africa and the US Embassy announced the funding at the launch of the US-Kenya Business Roadshow held on April 25 in New York. The announcement was part of the commitments made by President Joe Biden at the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit last year. The funds will be channelled under USAid and...

29 April 2023

Why Africa, why Kenya? Remarks by US Ambassador to Kenya

Thank you, Scott, for the kind introduction. It is a pleasure to partner with the Prosper Africa initiative to drive investment in Kenya and countries across the African continent. I am happy to kick off our U.S.-Kenya Business Roadshow with all of you today, and to announce that we will be partnering with Prosper Africa throughout the year to engage businesses and investors in cities across the United States. Our next stops include San...

26 April 2023

Kenya-USA: Joint Statement on the third US-Kenya bilateral strategic dialogue [incl. VIDEO]

The text of the following statement was released by the Governments of the United States of America and the Kenya on the occasion of U.S.-Kenya Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Washington, D.C. on April 24, 2023. Begin Text: The Governments of the United States of America and the Republic of Kenya held the third iteration of the U.S.-Kenya Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Washington, D.C. on April 24, 2023.  The U.S.-Kenya Strategic...

24 April 2023

Kenya: Manufacturers push for 15-year AGOA extension

Kenyan manufacturers have asked the Trade ministry to request Washington to extend the existing duty- and quota-free access to the expansive US market window for another 15 years as the two countries prepare for talks over a long-term bilateral trade deal. The Kenya Association of Manufacturers, the sector lobby, argues that uncertainty over the more than two decades-Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) deal, which expires in two years, is...

02 March 2023

Kenya and US complete first round of trade talks

Kenya and the United States have concluded the first round of Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP) that will form a basis for future bilateral engagements. The Kenyan delegation, led by Trade Principal Secretary Alfred K’Ombudo, hope that the five-day talks on the free trade agreement will bear fruits. The government has been scouting for areas of collaboration that will increase foreign direct investment, promote sustainable...

13 February 2023

Transparent, participatory process needed for US-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership

U.S. and Kenyan officials are meeting this week in Washington for the first negotiating round of the U.S.-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP). Public Citizen submitted recommendations for the U.S.-Kenya negotiations to USTR as part of its public comment process last year. Melinda St. Louis, Global Trade Watch director at Public Citizen, issued the following statement: “The U.S. and Kenyan governments...

08 February 2023

Kenyan and US officials to hold discussions on Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership

Trade representatives from Kenya and the US are set to hold an in-person first round of conceptual discussions under the Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP) in Washington, DC, from February 6th to 10th. The US delegation will be led by Assistant Trade Representative Connie Hamilton and will include representatives from several other government agencies, the Office of the US Trade Representative said in a press release. The two...

06 February 2023

You are here: Home/Downloads/Documents & Reports/US end-market analysis for Kenyan speciality coffee