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Monday, Feb 18, 2002

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Brazil catches 'em young -- To expand coffee consumer base

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IN Brazil, the coffee industry is trying to catch consumers young. Part of the Brazilian strategy to improve consumption includes introducing coffee in schools in age groups of 8 and above, said Mr Carlos Henrique Jorge Brando, from P&A Marketing International, Brazil.

Around 700,000 children are being targeted under this scheme. The initiative was based on recent research findings, which say that coffee was not harmful but beneficial to health, he said.

Mr Brando was speaking about the Brazilian experience to counter the stagnant consumption and increasing production in the country in 1988_ the problem that India is facing today_ at the India International Coffee Conference in Bangalore on Sunday.

Brazil more than doubled its consumption from 6 million bags to 13.6 million bags in ten years, he said. The efforts began with a study of which found that 30 per cent of the coffee in the country was impure and mixed.

A purity qualification with penalty for non conformation, bombarding messages through the national media, participation in trade fairs, setting up coffee shops and bars, selling gourmet and speciality coffee, and introducing new coffee based products as ice-creams and desserts helped to regain credibility for coffee.

While the solution for India might not be identical, the country could start by increasing consumption in areas where coffee drinking is a habit and creating demand in newer areas, Mr Brando said. Japan, a purely tea dinking country has converted to coffee; UK is heading that way and so are Russia and China, he said, pointing out that conversion from tea to coffee was not impossible.

As for the investment, Mr Brando said a total of $27 million had gone into the promotion scheme over a decade, but the returns had been much higher.

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