Coffee theft continues in Kenya
Bags of coffee are stored at Dormans Coffee in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Kenyan coffee industry continues its efforts to combat thieves who steal coffee beans to sell on the black market.
Kenya’s Coffee Directorate reports more than 30,000 kilos (33 metric tons) of coffee was stolen in 2016. Others in the industry project that number to be much higher. "I don't have accurate figures but I would say it is several times that amount," one roaster said.
Coffee yields are expected to decline this year as Kenyan farmers fight bad weather conditions. As the price for available inventory increases, so are reports of theft.
"Coffee is a high-value commodity and I am not sure how near the authorities are to solving these thefts," the roaster told STiR. "Theft has been on going for several years. There was a time when the exporters were targeted and theft took place either from our warehouses or coffee en route to our warehouses was hijacked at gunpoint. Now coffee is held in very secure warehouses, and often moved around with armed guards.
"So the coffee thieves moved up the value chain and started to steal parchment from the farmers, who are less able to protect themselves, and secure their coffees," the roaster said. "Theft now is also allegedly happening from the farms with cherry theft, and the coffee is allegedly being hawked to private companies who are running washing stations even though the current coffee act does not allow for this to happen."