We love to talk about a good opportunity when we see one. There are a lot out there, for sure, but one in particular strikes us as a confluence of several disparate trends right now, including gourmet, fair trade, and this whole local movement we’re pretty fond of.
A number of coffee, tea and chocolate companies, which rely on ingredients from exotic, far-flung locales like Sumatra, Kenya and Indonesia, have profited from single sourcing for the past several years. Rather than blend ingredients from around the globe, as so many brands did and still do, they’re capitalizing on the gourmet angle of the business by dividing sourcing into single countries or regions. The resulting product also has an identity and a mission, namely to support foreign farmers.
Now single sourcing is moving into the mainstream, and companies are promoting not just the source of the product, but the terroir, or taste profile associated with the area. Green Mountain Coffee, for example, provides information about the different countries that grow their new line of single origin brews and their different taste characteristics. From African countries you get citrus notes, while Indonesian beans provide a more smooth, earthy flavor.
“One of the most interesting aspects of coffee is how the tastes vary from region to region,” says Susan Cote, wholesale marketing director for Green Mountain.
Indeed. Companies are also expanding into new categories. Frontier Natural Co-op, for one, just came out with a line of single origin vanilla beans.
Judging by the numbers, it’s no wonder manufacturers are jumping in. Sales of origin-specific coffees are up 17% over the past year, according to Information Resources. And fair trade goods (which fall right in line with single origin) are increasing more than 40% a year, data from global co-op Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International shows.
With the economy in the dumps, who couldn’t use a little Sumatra these days?