TAIPEI, Taiwan – Taiwan is has a fast-growing coffee sector with an increasingly fierce competition. According to a recent report from United States Department of Agriculture (Usda), the size of Taiwan’s coffee market was approximately US$2.76 billion in 2020, with an annual growth rate of 20 percent. While competition will remain fierce, there is still room for growth. For instance, consumers in South Korea drink more coffee than Taiwan. In South Korea, an average person consumed 353 cups of coffee while consumers in Taiwan consumed 200 cups per capita on a yearly basis.
Coffee is widely available via multiple retail and food service channels, including international coffee chain stores, convenience stores/supermarkets, local coffee and bakery shops, and street stalls/kiosks. Stores not only compete among themselves, but they also face competition from larger supermarkets.
For example, PX Mart, a renowned local supermarket chain, recently began offering coffee via its more than 900 stores throughout the island. To maintain their market position, international and local coffee franchise stores [Starbucks (475 stores), Louisa (499 stores), 85C (470 stores), and Cama (125 stores)] continue to expand their focus by providing a comfortable atmosphere that appeals to students and working adults and introducing new coffee products and baked goods.
In line with the development of the local coffee drinking culture, consumers are increasingly opting for product types that allow them to enjoy high quality, freshly brewed coffee either at home and/or pick-up from neighboring stores. Fresh coffee beans and fresh ground coffee are the categories that have benefitted most from growing consumer sophistication in recent years.
Consumers increasingly favor fresh coffee over instant and sales of fresh black coffee are on the rise. Drip bag coffee products are gaining the popularity with strong demand. Gourmet, espresso-based coffee beverages are also growing in popularity. On the other hand, Euromonitor reports that “Demand for ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee is confined almost exclusively to young adults. The volume sales of RTD coffee will continue to decline, which will make it more challenging for manufacturers to reach new consumer groups.”
Throughout 2020, Taiwan remained essentially unimpacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
Thanks to Taiwan administration’s swift, effective response in managing this global crisis including economic stimulus and revitalization measures. Rather, the island enjoyed its status as Asia’s top performing economy in 2020 with 3.11 percent growth. Additionally, Taiwan consumers have some of the highest purchasing power in Asia at US$59,398 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita (PPP, 2021 est.). However, COVID-19 impacted high-touch service industries the hardest, especially in-store shopping, eating out, attending sports or events with big crowds. The local coffee industry experienced a boost during the pandemic period as an increasing number of coffee drinkers grab and carry out their daily coffee from retail outlets.
Taiwan Coffee Imports
In 2020, Taiwan imported US$263 million worth of coffee beans (49 percent roasted coffee beans; 51 percent green beans), representing more than an 11 percent growth rate from US$236 million in 2019. The United States is expected to maintain its leading position for roasted coffee beans, supplying approximately 30 percent of the market in Taiwan, followed by Malaysia (19%), Japan (12%), Vietnam (5%) and Italy (4%). Ethiopia (18%) and Colombia (16%) supply most of the green (non-roasted) coffee beans to Taiwan.
The upward trend of total import value in Taiwan is expected to continue for the next several years. Taiwan relies on imports to meet almost all of domestic demand as local coffee production is very limited.
Local Coffee Production
Taiwan local production of coffee is very limited, representing only 10-15 percent of total demand. The local coffee industry functions mostly as a tourist attraction because the cost of production, expensive labor, and limited arable land. The local special brand, famous for its Arabica coffee, comes from Taiwan’s main growing area is in Gukeng, Yunlin County. With the fast expansion of the coffee market, Taiwan’s coffee growers and coffee farmers have benefitted by combining their traditional endeavors with leisure industries and agri-tourism. Most of the locally produced coffee is consumed or purchased by the visitors visiting the production areas.
Three World Coffee Competitions to be held this year in Taipei
Three 2021 World Coffee Competitions Bring Attention to Taiwan The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) announced that the 2021 World Coffee Roasting Championship, World Coffee in Good Spirits Championship, and World Latte Art Championship are scheduled to take place during the Taiwan International Coffee show in Taipei on November 19-22, 2021.