Singapore to Become Key Regional Trading Hub for Specialty Coffee; Grow Industry

SINGAPORE, July 14, 2021– The Singapore Coffee Association (SCA) has embarked on a multi-pronged approach to position Singapore at the heart of the region’s specialty coffee market, leveraging on the city state’s geographical advantage as well as excellent business infrastructure. 

Announcing Singapore’s ambitions to become a key regional specialty coffee trading hub, SCA president Victor Mah, who is also president of the ASEAN Coffee Federation (ACF), outlined SCA’s plans at the Singapore Speciality Coffee (Micro-Lot) Auction 2021 held at the Marina Bay Sands. The event was graced by guest-of-honour Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Trade and Industry Dr Tan See Leng and 21 ambassadors and high commissioners. 

Said Mr Mah: “We sit at the centre of one of the world’s most important coffee-producing regions and busiest shipping lanes. With Singapore’s track record of ease of business and trade agreements in place that make it easier for both the import and export of coffee, we are well-positioned to be the epicentre of the specialty coffee market in this region.” 

The world’s coffee market was valued at US$102.02 billion in 2020, with the specialty coffee sector making up just about a third of that, according to reports. The niche sector, however, is set to more than double its value to over US$80 billion by 2025.  

Eyeing a slice of the global specialty coffee pie, Singapore’s over US$200 million coffee industry has a multi-pronged approach to making sure Singapore and the region is well equipped to support the ambitions of being a trading hub. 

Multi-pronged approach 

For one, the SCA together with ACF will set up the ASEAN Coffee Institute by the end of the year. The institute aims to train and certify baristas, offer certified coffee grader programmes and implement an ASEAN coffee excellence programme. The latter two components will be especially important as the plan is to set an ASEAN standard for grading specialty coffee.  Having an ASEAN standard would make it easier and more efficient for the coffee-producing countries in this region to do business.

The Singapore Speciality Coffee (Micro-Lot) Auction 2021 was a prime example of the region moving in this direction. ASEAN coffee graders were behind the grading of 58 carefully selected lots of specialty coffee from 15 countries from South America, Africa and Asia that went on auction.  

Added Mr A Syafrudin, first vice-president of the ACF and advisor to the Specialty Coffee Association of Indonesia (SCAI): “Singapore’s pro-business environment, global connectivity and cosmopolitan setting make it one of the better places to represent South-east Asia as the trading hub for specialty coffee.”

SCA will also work on an industry transformation roadmap aimed at raising the levels of Singapore’s coffee industry. From looking to better digitalise the industry to working with the government to assist our SMEs to go regional, SCA hopes it can double Singapore’s coffee market in the years to come. 

As a prelude to the auction, SCA, with the support from Bank Indonesia as the Key Partner, organised Singapore’s largest coffee convention in a hybrid format which saw more than 100 in-person and close to 900 virtual attendees from 10 countries and regions. With the theme “Connecting Central, South America and Asia’s Coffee Industry” the convention featured six speakers from Indonesia, Colombia, China and Japan sharing their expertise and market information of their respective markets. 

Said Ms Anastuty Kusumowardhani, Chief Representative, Bank Indonesia, Singapore Rep Office: “Bank Indonesia is pleased to support SCA’s efforts in their push to propel the region’s coffee industry via the convention. Indonesia is one of the key coffee producers in the world, and we see the event as the ideal platform for us to help promote Indonesian coffee regionally and globally.”  

On the e-commerce front, SCA also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with e-commerce giant Shopee to organise the digital version of the Singapore Coffee Week, scheduled for October. Coffee enthusiasts can look out for exciting deals and coffee appreciation and engagement virtual events, among others. 

Said Mr Ian Ho, Shopee’s Regional Managing Director: “Shopee remains steadfast in our commitment in helping local businesses transition online and unlocking new digital opportunities under these challenging circumstances. We pride ourselves on our hyper-localised approach and culture of constant innovation, empowering partner brands and sellers to support local needs.”