Colombian coffee growers court sales in Canada as peace takes root at home

OTTAWA (May 2, 2017) - They've withstood decades of armed conflict, economic disruption and market uncertainty to secure their place in Colombia's pantheon of quality coffee growers. Seven small producers from as many regions of Colombia are in Toronto this week to meet their next big challenge - wooing Canadian buyers to their specialty coffees. 

CCA projects manager Philippa Wiens (L) celebrates with coffee producers Viviana Oviedo of Cafinorte (C) and Milton Zamora of Asocafe (R) who received rave reviews this morning from exhibitors sampling their product at the SIAL Canada trade show in Toronto.  
The co-operatives and producer associations they represent do more than grow exquisite coffee, they are vital engines of social and economic development in their regions.
"As member owned and operated businesses, they have improved the livelihoods and quality of life of their communities," says Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) country manager Lydia Phillips, in Bogota. "Their success is now persuading young people to continue their family coffee businesses, that there are growing economic opportunities for them in rural areas."
"Through our IMPACT project, CCA is helping rural communities make the transition to produce legal crops such as cacao, coffee, fruits and vegetables in the aftermath of Colombia's protracted armed conflict. "In a nutshell, we help farmers acquire the methods and means to compete successfully in the marketplace." 

"This trade mission enables Colombian producers to meet with Canadian regulators, importers and selected members of the value chain community to discuss sanitary and phytosanitary compliance requirements, challenges and expectations," says CCA projects manager Philippa Wiens. "They will also have an opportunity to establish contacts for future business opportunities." 

The producers are testing reaction to their products this week at SIAL Canada, the country's largest annual agri-food exhibition taking place May 2-4 at Toronto's Enercare Centre at Exhibition Place. The three-day event attracts over 850 exhibitors from 50 countries hosting over 15,000 buyers from Canada, the United States, and 60 other countries. SIAL is a big entryway to the US and international markets, says Juan Higuera, who is organizing the mission. "This experience will give the producers an understanding of the consumer preferences of Canadian and North American coffee drinkers."

The group will also visit Toronto area restaurants, markets and food courts for a chance to compare prices, packaging, presentation of product, design - all of which, Higuera says, will enhance their understanding of the competition in the Canadian market. A group of Colombian fruit producers will arrive a week later for a similar trade exposure mission.

Higuera encourages buyers to visit the coffee producer's booth (736) to learn about co-op coffee and to sample their product.

"Come and enjoy a cup of peace and prosperity!"  


For more information contact:
Philippa Wiens
(613) 238-6711 ext 253 
IMPACT (Improving the Economic Performance of Agriculture Co-operatives)
is a five year food security project that is helping farmer associations in Colombia become registered as legal co-operatives, providing farmer groups with technical, management and marketing training, and facilitating commercial trade among co-operatives.  The project is supporting and improving the ability of rural co-ops to manage productivity and growth, to expand into regional, national and international markets, and to access the financing necessary to allow this to occur. IMPACT is being implemented by the Canadian Co-operative Association and Gestando and is funded by the Government of Canada (Global Affairs Canada) and the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada.  
The Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) is a not-for-profit co-operative which establishes and strengthens co-operatives, credit unions and community-based organizations to reduce poverty, build sustainable livelihoods and improve civil society in developing countries.   

The Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF)
is a registered charitable organization that works to alleviate poverty by building and strengthening financial and non-financial co-ops in Canada and around the world. CDF works with the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) and other organizations to implement development projects on its behalf.