While 2020 proved no crystal ball is accurate, GCR invited industry leaders to share their hopes, ambitions, and predictions for 2021, in what is likely to be a defining year for the international coffee market.
There was this strange feeling in the world, in the first months into this pandemic, that maybe things will be better in a few weeks. Then a few weeks turned into a few months. Halfway through the year, many expected that things would be better. I think all of us deep down are fully aware this is not the case. 2021 is going to be another year into this pandemic and we all hope that science will provide us with tools to save human lives and restore some type of normality to social life.
However, I believe we need to look at the positive side of things. This year will, without a doubt, be another challenging year, yet there are fundamental differences that can allow us to be more optimistic. We know we are in the midst of a pandemic, and this is not an unexpected event anymore. We know we need to preserve lives and jobs while socially distancing. We know that consumer habits and consumption trends have changed, digital platforms are transforming consumer experiences, and the e-economy is booming. Home consumption is at an all time high given the restrictions for face-to-face interactions.
For the coffee industry, I think 2021 will be a very interesting year. Markets will be able to have better forecasting models when it comes to demand and also supply. It has been almost eight months into this pandemic. We went through the first lockdowns with the governments and industry. Now we can make more accurate predictions for the coming months.
Producing countries and institutions have policies and procedures on how to produce and process coffee in a COVID-19 controlled environment.
On the consumption side, roasters have a better understanding of channel shifting between on-premise and home consumption. With the retail chains and coffee shops, we are going to see even further consolidation, in my opinion. This part of the industry has been stretched really thin during the past eight months.
A lot of chains and coffee shops have managed to navigate to make a shift towards online sales, curbside pick-up, to-go, and delivery models – significantly changing the fundamental principles of many business models, such as large square footage in shops to deliver dining experiences.
I want to also acknowledge the dramatic impact this pandemic is having on coffee professionals throughout the value chain on multiple levels and mostly economically, as a lot of people lost their jobs. Hopefully, we can expect the economy to rebound sometime in 2021.
Written by Yannis Apostolopoulos, Chief Executive Officer of the Speciality Coffee Association.