For the 2010-2011 period, between 19,500 and 20,000 hectares of coffee were planted nationwide, according to data from the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MICI), and 46,000 quintals were exported in 2011.
From January to May this year, the value of exports have decreased by 18.6%, with $6,593,000 sold, according to the Comptroller General of the Republic.
Despite the decline, coffee is ranked as one of the top products for trade and export, and the category of speciality beans is growing steadily.
Carlos Aguilera Franceshi, from the Carmen Estate Coffee, Inc. farm, located in the area of Volcón in the province of Chiriquí, cultivates some 30 hectares for export and expects to increase harvest rates by 20% to 30%, depending on climatic factors.
He stated that Asian markets are a new option for the product, while Germany, Italy, Netherlands and other Scandinavian countries have been the places to sell Panamanian coffee.
The coffee grower added that on the Carmen Estate Coffee, Inc. farm, unroasted green coffee of the Caturra and Geisha varieties is commercialized. In Volcán and Boquete, there are around 30 members in the Specialty Coffee Association of Panama (SCAP), dedicated to promoting Panamanian coffee in various countries around the world.
He explained that buyers in the international market on average pay $3.00 per pound of specialty coffee.
These prices vary at auctions, like this past April when the Japanese arrived at a sum of U.S. $93.25 per pound of the Kotowa variety of coffee.
Today coffee growers in the area of Renacimiento in Chiriquí will be sending coffee samples to Slovakia, with the hope of selling the product. In April, five European companies will come to the country to finalize the trade deal for Panamanian coffee.
Ernesto Amed Lezcano, president of the Coffee Growers Association of Renacimiento, explained that these business agreements are the result of promotion of the product by the MICI at fairs, where appointments were arranged with interested companies. Lezcano added that harvesting has already begun in Renacimiento, with expectations to close the season in December with 10,000 more quintals than in the previous year, which would be 85,000 quintals of coffee.