Our recent survey into how the restrictions in place to contain Covid-19 have affected our customers paints a diverse picture. There isn’t a single experience. The full impact of Covid-19 depends on your country, your city, your business model and how you have been able to pivot, if at all.
We know anecdotally that web shops are a lifeline for many of you, and they may have turned your buying strategy on its head. However online sales require more resources than wholesale sales, so adapting to this change hasn’t always been smooth.
In other cases, roasted bean sales are less resource-intensive, especially in countries like Norway where there have been fewer restrictions. Some cafes have remained open for takeaway and bean sales, which means fewer baristas for higher gross sales.
This survey was conducted in April 2020. Things are changing fast, so we expect different answers in the coming weeks. For now, here are a few snippets from the survey. You can also download the full survey results below.
While Covid-19 restrictions have impacted roasteries to different degrees, it is clear that most of you are operating below your usual capacity.
For some, this may be changing. Just under half of you have seen an increase in the last two weeks as customers adjust to life under lockdown, or in some areas, restrictions begin to ease.
Green buying in 2020
However we see there will be a big impact on green buying for the remainder of the year. Half of our roasters are well stocked for the next three to five months, and over 20% with enough greens for the next six months or more. Additionally almost 70% will buy less green coffee than planned or no coffee at all in the next couple of months.
Coffee buying strategy
We are heartened to see the majority of roasters will focus on existing producer relationships. Also, almost 30% of our customers are considering focusing on higher quality, less price sensitive coffee. This may be a result of the increased demand for high quality lots on web shops.
Contracting and logistics
We are working to support our community and ensure the survival of our industry, so we are looking for ways to best support our customers through this crisis. You have told us that longer financing terms would be most helpful, followed by discounts on coffee prices and reduced shipping costs.
Additionally, flexibility is key for navigating these uncertain times. Almost two thirds of roasters are willing to pay extra to have the capacity to adjust their buying in the coming months.
Your thoughts on the future of our industry
Again, your comments paint a very diverse picture.
Some fear this crisis will have a negative impact on the specialty industry:
“It will be harder to find a market for high quality coffee. Price will play the biggest role.”
“[There will be a] narrower market with fewer specialty only roasteries.”
“[There will be] reduced consumption for higher priced coffees due to lack of income during covid lockdown periods, local purchasing for coffee (drinks) will be based on cost.”
“I think people in my area will spend less on coffee and choose more affordable coffee (robusta or robusta blends) because their income has generally reduced.”
Some of you are believe demand for coffee will never wane, but our business models may have to adapt:
“I think consumer behavior will change. Coffee is and will remain an essential product. People will switch to brewing their own coffee rather than buying brewed coffee from cafes/restaurants.”
“I truly think it will be stable soon after we get rid of all lockdowns. Demand would hike after lockdown is lifted then it will regularise to normal pattern. The only issue is the uncertainty of when the curfew will be lifted.”
“I do not think it will have a huge impact, there will be some damage this year for sure. Long term there will be more webshop direct to consumer business, as confidence grows coffee shops will bounce back.”
Others see greater demand for high quality coffee:
“It will be better for the specialty coffee industry than before. People are drinking more than usual at home now, and prefer to try high quality coffee than they normally would. They can not go back to bad coffee after Covid-19.”
“I need more expensive coffee for the individual market.”
And some of you are optimistic, and see a brighter future for our industry ahead:
“I think ultimately the industry will be stronger. There is great value in relationship based trade as well as transparency. Hopefully we the buyers will come out better and more discerning about how we do business and who we do business with.”
Thank you to all our roasters who completed this survey. You can download the full results here: