Saturday at 6 am, our team was gathered on Finca Cuatro Caminos, where our coffee mill, laboratory, and storage facility is located, to load 12 tons of coffee into a container bound for Japan.
There were mixed emotions of both excitement and relief, as this container was initially scheduled to set sail in the summer of 2020! But "Rona" had other ideas.
No need to dwell on that point any longer!
The team put their backs into it as 392 boxes, each containing 2 x vacuum-packed 15-kilo bags of green exportable, zero-defect specialty coffee, were meticulously loaded.
The client in Japan requested that we use a refrigerated container, so we obliged. The team ensured that extra layers of insulation paper were applied to absorb any excess moisture during transportation.
At the time of writing, the container is on board a cargo ship sailing its way from the Panama canal, direct to Yokahama, with an approximate travel time of 22 days.
We were on hand to pitch in and created a short video of the loading process for you to enjoy.
One obvious logistical benefit of operating a distribution business in Panama is direct access to the Panama Canal and all the customs and logistics companies that go with it.
However, arranging this shipment still had many challenges. The global pandemic and its impact on trade and manufacturing have contributed towards a severe shortage of containers.
"A trade boom in the second half of last year caught the container producers -- mostly Chinese companies -- by surprise as the pandemic threw the existing supply of about 25 million boxes off their normal routes. The manufacturers have been ramping up output ever since, but they’re unable to alleviate shortages that have underpinned soaring freight rates for six months.
The problem resembles those in the car industry, where automakers cut computer chip orders early in 2020 expecting a slump in sales, only to see household consumption prove resilient".
With the coffee now on its way, the next phase is working with our Japanese business partners to complete the sale of this coffee to several interested parties who have all sampled the coffee and have been awaiting shipment.
One thing to note, that although green coffee is non-perishable and is safely sealed in vacuum-packed bags, retaining the same quality, it is considered by specialty coffee buyers to be "old crop". This happens as soon as the new harvest/crop becomes available on the market.
Under normal circumstances, the coffee is 100% sold each year, so this is not an issue, but 2020 was not normal!
So we will begin negotiations, likely sell at a lower than expected price, but will use it to continue building our relationships in this fascinating market.