Maas International, a supplier of coffee and tea machines, wants to sell locally grown products to its customers, wherever possible. This includes coffee from Ethiopia and now also tea from Nepal, the latter thanks to support from Nepalese tea cooperatives from Agriterra.
Most of the time, coffee and tea crops leave the countries where they are grown in their raw state. This means that only 2% of the retail price comes back to producers. The rest goes to middlemen, including processing industries, retailers and coffee bars.
Branding and packaging
Maas International, based in the southern Dutch city of Eindhoven, wants to change that. The company has teamed up with a fairly new coffee producer called Movee, which imports directly from Ethiopia. Movee has built its own roasting and packaging facility in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and cooperates with local parties on a 50-50 basis. Maas International has invested in the Ethiopian enterprise and supports local training and logistics. “This investment is good for Ethiopia,” says Wouter Fijnaut, Maas International’s Director. “This way, instead of exporting unprocessed green beans, more money stays in the country and we make a profit too. We receive guaranteed premium quality coffee, which we sell at a higher price.”
Countries of origin
Maas International buys 10 per cent (20,000 kg) of the Ethiopian facility’s entire roast bean production, which currently employs 48 people. This also keeps the production chain within the country of origin. Some coffee farmers also receive additional agricultural training and now earn 20 per cent more from their coffee beans. Maas markets the coffee in the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark as part of the Impact@Origin program.
A tea farmers’ cooperative
Maas also wants to start marketing tea, processed and packaged in Nepal and has finalised plans with Agriterra to begin the project. In Nepal, Agriterra works with the cooperatives’ umbrella organisation, CCTF, and Tinjure, a 200-strong cooperative of tea farmers. High in the mountains, they grow a unique intense tea variety. The cooperative itself selects, dries, grinds and packages the tea leaves.
“Today, most tea is an anonymous bulk product from India,” says Agriterra advisor Bertken de Leede. “What this cooperative wants is something it has never done before: to sell its tea as a premium product to regular customers. We support these business-oriented cooperatives with their own internal management, marketing and financial management. We also help them improve the quality of their end product.”