Meet the high-end African brands who are breaking the Chiense market – Kangumamu AGRO

Who We Are?

It is no secret that coffee has exploded in popularity in China, despite being a traditionally tea drinking country. Although most coffee consumed in China comes from Vietnam and Malaysia, as well as China itself, African coffee is becoming increasingly popular amongst Chinese consumers. For example, the volume of Ethiopia’s coffee exports to China is growing annually at 16% year on year and the number of Ugandan coffee bags exported to China have increased by 50 thousand between 2018 to 2020 from 33,000 to 83,000. Africa is famous amongst coffee connoisseurs for having some of the richest coffee flavours in the world. Ugandan coffee, in particular, is known for having some of the tastiest coffee in Africa due to its floral, fruity, nutty, and chocolaty aromas.

One company that is putting Ugandan coffee on the map in China is Kangumamu AGRO. Kangumamu AGRO is a coffee trading company and coffee farmers collective that was founded in 1994 by Kangumamu William to ensure that smallholder coffee farmers in Sheema District – a region in Uganda that is famous for its high-quality Robusta and Arabica coffee – received fairer prices for their coffee beans.

Kangumamu William had grown tired of the middlemen who travelled over 300 kilometres from the capital, Kampala, to buy coffee beans at cheap prices from smallholder farmers in Sheema District and then made their living by reselling the beans at much higher prices to companies in Kampala who then shipped the beans to Europe and Asia for roasting. Instead, William decided to gather a group of smallholder farmers together, started collecting their coffee and selling it directly to roasteries and trading companies in Kampala.

Today, Kangumamu AGRO has become one of the leading coffee trading companies in Uganda whilst still remaining a family run company. Now led by Frandan Tumukunde, a social entrepreneur who grew up in a smallholder coffee growing family in Sheema District, Kangumamu AGRO has now built enough relationships to source coffee from almost every coffee-growing region in Uganda, which is then sold directly to coffee roasteries and trading companies in both Uganda and internationally to ensure smallholder coffee farmers across Uganda receive a fair wage for their work.

Tumukunde, like William, became passionate about helping smallholder coffee farmers because he grew up watching his parents struggling to run their coffee farm because of the low prices they received for their tireless work. For this reason, Tumukunde cultivated and strengthened Kangumamu AGRO’s strong sense of social responsibility. Kangumamu now also works directly with smallholder farmers across Uganda to provide coffee growing training, micro loans for inputs and equipment, has rolled out a quality control process across the country to ensure Uganda’s coffee is recognized and sought after globally for its high-quality, pays education fees up to university for some farmers’ children, as well as continuing to create a link between the growers and the coffee roasters and trading companies.

After getting the opportunity to work in China, Tumukunde became focused on increasing Uganda’s coffee exports to the region. Tumukunde was keenly aware of the fact that coffee exports are Uganda’s most valuable agricultural export commodity, generating around 20-30% of foreign exchange earnings over the past twenty years, with 95% of Uganda’s coffee production exported. An estimated 12 million people in Uganda rely on the coffee industry in some form, with over 11.9 million of these being farmers.

China’s growing demand for foreign-origin coffee, especially for unique coffee blends only available outside of Asia, presented a huge market opportunity for Uganda’s coffee growers. Coffee is now widely favored by young people. The fact that young people are the main consumers of coffee is inseparable from the fact that modern young people are paying more and more attention to the quality of consumption, and how the moderate consumption of coffee can help maintain a healthy lifestyle. In addition, consumer demand for richer varieties of coffee, such as African coffee, has increased, as well as the purchasing of coffee from both online and offline channels.

Tumukunde showcased Uganda’s distinctive blends of Robusta and Arabica coffee beans at expos in Shanghai and Guangzhou. Both were huge hits, which allowed Tumukunde to grow his client base across China and Asia from Shanghai to Seoul! Kangumamu was also displayed in the Africa Reimagined booth at the 2021 China-Africa Economic and Trade expo where it attracted attention from Chinese coffee distributors and wholesalers.

Kangumamu AGRO has also been supported by the Ugandan government and the Ugandan Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) with entering the Chinese market. The UCDA has developed a five-year ‘coffee roadmap’, which aims to establish cooperative partnerships with China to drive demand for Ugandan coffee and to develop Uganda’s value-added capacity to increase our coffee value by up to 15%.

Significant progress has been made on increasing awareness of Ugandan coffee in China. In partnership with the Ugandan consulate in Guangzhou, the UCDA has hosted promotional events, expos and partnerships with Chinese coffee stakeholders. As a result, single-origin Ugandan coffee is becoming more reputable and is being sold to wholesalers, cafes, and retailers across China.

Further, in September 2019, the Ugandan government and the coffee regulatory authority initiated a partnership with China’s Yunnan Coffee Exchange (YCE). The YCE aims to support Uganda in improving coffee export quality to meet international and Chinese export standards, alongside helping promote Uganda’s coffee in China through its distribution channels. Like many other coffee-exporting African countries, such as Rwanda and Ethiopia, the Ugandan consulate in Guangzhou has tapped into is Chinese e-commerce platforms, which are increasingly used to purchase coffee products and forged ties with Alibaba and WeChat to increase online sales in China.

Tumukunde’s dream is to one day run coffee shops across China where Chinese people will come to enjoy the uniqueness of Uganda’s coffee. He also hopes that through cooperation with China, Ugandan farmers can earn more profits and produce more value-added coffee to help Ugandan coffee become known worldwide. But for this to be a reality requires further cooperation between both China and Uganda.

Kangumamu AGRO is continuing to sell its coffee in China with the support of Africa Reimagined. Kangumamu was also showcased and sold at the 2021 China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo in the Africa Reimagined booth.

Africa Reimagined is a China market entry service program and consultancy for premium African brands. All the brands we work with are sustainable and keep their entire supply chains within Africa to keep the value added within the continent. Africa Reimagined is dedicated to reducing the trade imbalance of value-added profits between Africa and China by supporting African brands with entering the Chinese market.

Contact Africa Reimagined to learn more about or purchase from Kangumamu AGRO or to learn more about the Africa Reimagined program.

August 2022

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