In the Yunnan province in southwestern China, farmers have grown a famous green tea for centuries. Now, farmers are embracing the coffee bean for larger profits, sponsored by some well known brands.
Coffee Takes Root in China
ADRIENNE MONG, reporting:
Farmers have cultivated a special green leaf in Yunnan Province, China for nearly 2,000 years. Men like Mr. Wong, a robust 72 year-old who farmed tea for decades, until he discovered coffee, which sold for a better price and offered for a more stable profit. “Before I started growing coffee, I couldn’t afford a house like the one I live in now,” he said. Wong was helped along by Nestle, which first came here 23 years ago, drawn by the market potential and the favorable farming conditions.
WOUTER DeSMET (Nestle): Farmers are very motivated. They learn very fast, okay, and then when they learn something, they implement it very fast, so we see very fast changes.
MONG: In 1988, this province produced 1,500 tons of coffee beans. That figure jumped to 35,000 tons this year, and experts say, the figure could double within five years. Nestle provides the coffee growers, most of them small scale, with training and technical expertise, all to ensure quality standards and a steady supply. Half of the beans are sold around the world; the other half stays here for the domestic market, where more and more Chinese are choosing a coffee lifestyle.
WANG JINGLONG (President and Chairman Starbucks Greater China): We definitely created a new Chinese coffee culture in a tea-drinking nation very quickly.
MONG: Starbucks already has about 450 outlets in China. It wants to triple that number by 2015, and like Nestle, it also plans to set up its own farm system in Yunnan, a first for the Seattle based company. But while it may have only taken a few years to change the farming habits of families like the Wong’s, it might take a lot longer to change their drinking habits. “I can’t get to sleep after I drink coffee,” says Wong. Adrienne Mong, NBC News, Pu’er, China.
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