Sales of Rwandan coffee in China via online platforms belonging to China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba increased by 400 per cent in 2020, according to information from Alibaba.
Since 2018, different Rwandan coffee brands debuted on the Chinese online market, particularly selling on Tmall Global, a cross-border import platform of Alibaba.
This was made possible by the Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP), a deal signed between Rwanda and the e-commerce company in 2018, seeking to open doors for small businesses in Africa to take part in the cross-border electronic trade by availing their products to the Chinese market.
The rise in sales of Rwandan coffee in China has demonstrated the popularity of Rwandan exports among Chinese consumers.
Though Alibaba did not divulge detail of the volumes, The New Times talked to Rwanda Coffee Company, the producer of Gorilla Coffee one of the three local brands that are selling in China, to get a picture of the sales made in 2020.
They (Rwanda Coffee Company) disclosed that their brand sold over 7.2 tonnes to Chinese online consumers during 2020.
Sales made by the other two brands (companies) during the year were not established by The New Times by press time.
Speaking to The New Times, David Ngarambe the Chief Executive of Rwanda Coffee Company said that these are still modest numbers, but he noted that this kind of increase is promising, as the brand looks to build more visibility in the bustling online market of the Asian country.
He attributed the increase in sales to two online live stream sessions that were held by Alibaba in China to promote Rwandan coffee.
“These two live streaming events increased our brand visibility and awareness in China,” he said.
The two events took place in January and May 2020. During these, thousands of Chinese consumers were introduced to Rwandan coffee.
In one of the events that took place in May, more than 10 million people watched, and about 1.5 tonnes of roasted Rwandan coffee beans were sold within seconds.
Ngarambe said that the volume of Rwandan coffee sold on the Chinese market is still small, but he noted that the growth trend is good and the future seems good.
“The numbers are still small, but the growth is there. The trend is positive. The potential is there – a huge one actually. I’m seeing a future,” he said.
Meanwhile, speaking of the general exports of Rwanda’s coffee in the world, statistics indicate that the country’s coffee export volume reduced by 6 per cent, while revenues went down by over 11 per cent, or $7.6 million (about Rwf7 billion).
Going back to the Chinese market, Rwandan chili is also selling in China – online and has been making progress. According to information from Alibaba, more than 60 tons of the chili have been imported since the beginning of 2019.
In addition to this, Rwanda’s tourism products are being promoted on Fliggy (Alibaba’s tourism site) as the country looks to attract more tourists from China.
With hundreds of millions of consumers, Alibaba is the world’s largest online commerce company and home to leading cross-border marketplaces where Chinese consumers look to find the highest quality products from around the world.