CHONGQING, April 22 (Xinhua) -- Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality has never grown a single coffee bean, but China's largest coffee trading center flourishes there.
Cumulative transaction volume of coffee products on a parallel e-platform launched in June last year has exceeded 5.2 billion yuan (750 million U.S. dollars). Coffee beans produced in southwest China's Yunnan Province, South and Southeast Asia are brought there to be shipped to Europe by freight train.
"Chongqing is a logistics distribution center that connects coffee producers in Asia with the market in Europe," said Feng Yue, founder of Chongqing coffee trading center.
Domestic coffee consumption has recently been growing by around 20 percent each year, according to Feng expects the market to top 600 billion yuan in the next ten years, from the current 100 billion yuan, so it is an attractive investment prospect.
The Belt and Road Initiative has facilitated the China-Europe train. It takes only 13 days for beans to arrive in Duisburg, Germany from Chongqing by rail, 30 days less than by sea, and at a fifth of the cost of air freight.
"Coffee tastes best within 14 days of roasting. A long time at sea increases the moisture content of the beans, which affects their taste and quality. The travel time by rail perfectly matches market requirements in Europe," Feng said.
"The altitude, humidity and temperature in Yunnan make it a very good area for coffee growing. The province produces 99 percent of China's coffee and more than 60 percent of that is sold overseas as low value-added raw beans," said Peng De, manager of the center.
"Due to poor planting techniques and lack of domestic specialist agencies for quality assessment, Yunnan's coffee beans are not as popular as they should be. The center in Chongqing will help to introduce better technology for planting and roasting, offer financial and professional support in production, transportation and training," Peng said.
"Yunnan coffee could easily fetch a good price," he added.
A standard testing system, led by the center, has been followed since this year's harvest. The center also releases reference prices, customer requirements and global market dynamics to planters in Yunnan for them to improve their products and services.
"We are actively helping China's coffee industry to move up the industry chain so that domestic coffee beans secure a larger share of the domestic market and sell at a good price in the global market," Peng said.