How Italians are exporting coffee during Covid

Consumption grows despite the pandemic. Total sales in 2020 reached 3.9 billion euros, 37% of which generated by exports

Not even Covid-19 pandemic was enough to curb coffee consumption in Italy, as well as exports by Italian companies. The closure of bars and restaurants has been offset by the increase in domestic consumption. Thus, in 2020, the market of the sector is going to close with an all-too-contained decline compared to 2019: 3.9 billion euros in total turnover, more than 37% of which derived from exports.

According to data from Italy’s Coffee Promotion Consortium, in the spring months of 2020 characterized by the lockdown, the contraction in out of home consumption reached 70 million euros per month, and even in the following months there was no return to usual levels.

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Among the consequences of the pandemic, the change in purchasing habits should certainly be noted, starting with the growing success of e-commerce. In the first three months of 2020, this channel recorded sales of 11.4 million euros and the forecast for the end of 2020 is 50 million, compared to 29.3 in 2019.

A large part of purchases, however, still concern large-scale organized distribution, which generated sales of 1.2 billion euros.


Italians are not, however, among the top coffee consumers in the world. Per capita consumption is 5.48 kg per year, in line with the European average, but much lower than the 8.29 kg of Northern European countries. In the rest of the world Canada – with 6.26 kg – is the top consumer country.


As far as production is concerned, the Italian processing industry is confirmed as one of the world leaders. And this is strongly linked to the role of espresso coffee within the “Italian Way of Life”. For climatic reasons, the raw material is all imported. In 2020, Italian industries purchased more than 5 million 60-kilo bags, mostly from Brazil, Vietnam, Central America, India, Uganda and Indonesia. Export volumes account for 2.6 million bags and 60% of export sales in 2020 were made in Europe (France, Germany and Austria in the lead). The United States is the first destination country outside the EU. Italy is also, together with Germany, the world leader in the industry of coffee roasting machines and packaging equipment.

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