Coffee Association of Canada interim president Lesya Balych-Cooper, above right, says Canada’s coffee culture is undergoing a “wonderful transformation.” Canadian coffee drinkers are adventurous and curious and always embracing changes at the forefront of the industry, said Balych-Cooper. Residents there spend more than $6.2 billion annually on coffee. Consumption among coffee drinkers was an average 2.8 cups per day, among the highest in the world. Last year the association conducted a strategic review to determine its greatest value for members. The group intends to be the “go to” source for accurate, reliable information on anything to do with coffee, she said, adding, “Our marching orders are to become a platform for coffee activities, education and a professional networking hub for coffee.” A detailed report on the 2015 consumer consumption survey is available at www.coffeeassoc.com
STiR: The coffee sector is valued at $6.2 billion of which $4.8 billion is foodservice sales and $1.4 billion in grocery. There are 5,000 independent cafes and 8,000 small business owners directly involved in coffee employing more than 200,000 full and part-time workers with another 5,000 jobs in coffee roasting, logistics and support. Canada has shown the fastest sustained growth among traditional importing markets for the past decade and is the largest exporter of value-added coffee to the US. What makes Canada such a great coffee market?
Balych-Cooper: We believe Canada is a great coffee market in large part because our country’s coffee industry continues to innovate, offering Canadians a broad variety of products, and convenient coffee options including single-serve options. Canadians are also interested in trying new products, and early adopters of new technologies.
STiR: Overall Canada is experiencing coffee growth. The percentage of past-day coffee drinkers grew to 67% this year among all Canadians (compared to 65% in 2013). There was also a slight increase in consumers who reported drinking coffee in the past week. Please describe the trends driving consumption in what is now one of the top 20 coffee per capita nations in the world (3.4 kg per person).
Balych-Cooper: The key trend that we saw this year was the increase among millennials in the consumption of specialty coffee. We also saw a continued interest in single-serve coffee options.
STiR: What is Canada’s favorite coffee drink? Do Canadian men and women indicate different preferences in coffee drink?
Balych-Cooper: The most common beverage is traditional coffee-56% of men aged 18+ and 53% of women aged 18+ drank traditional coffee yesterday. In terms of what people like to add to their coffee, women are more likely to whiten only, while men are more likely to sweeten and whiten their coffee. So you could say that men are more likely to sweeten their coffee.
We see that young Canadians are more likely to sweeten their coffee than those aged 50+. Younger consumers are also more likely to use flavoured syrup, or add a shot of espresso to their coffee than those in the older age group. Younger consumers (18-24) are significantly more likely than those aged 35+ to use soy milk in their coffee, though soy milk usage is low among all age groups.
STiR: As the population ages, past-day penetration increases. Have you seen any significant shift in coffee consumed by different demographic groups—millennials, baby boomers, seniors?
Balych-Cooper: What we are seeing is essentially little movement in the last few years (2013-2015) in terms of the consumption rates of 50-64 year olds and 65-79 year olds. We do see a greater percentage of the older cohort drinking coffee in the past day and past week vs younger cohorts.
STiR: Canada remains a trend setter in specialty coffee. The United States recently recorded its first year (2014) where the value of specialty coffee exceeded commercial grades (51%-49%). I believe this milestone was reached some time ago in Canada. Will you share your thoughts on why specialty coffee does so well in this competitive market.
Balych-Cooper: You are right that Canadians are embracing specialty coffee, particularly the younger demographic. I would suggest that the main reason for this is our inclination to enjoy innovation and our sense of adventure when it comes to food and beverages, which again is prevalent among our younger demographic.
STiR: The share of cups of coffee consumed at home is declining. The 2013 survey reported a share of 76% of cups consumed in home among past-day coffee drinkers. The 2015 survey showed a decrease to 71% share of cups consumed in home. Please shed some light on the out of home growth.
Balych-Cooper: We do see a shift in preference to consume coffee out of the home, which is likely due to Canadians’ positive response to the innovation around coffee drinks served in quick service and full service restaurants.
STiR: Once again Canadians are among the top nations that have embraced single-serve. Household penetration is 38% in the latest survey, significantly higher than in the US (27%) where the rate of conversion from drip coffee in the home has slowed. Will you share your observations on this trend in brewing methods.
Balych-Cooper: We have seen for years that single-cup penetration in Canada is stronger than in the US. We are not certain why this is, as we do not do a deep analysis of US habits vs Canadian habits. We do know that Canadians are fast adopters of new technology, and convenience is a major factor for Canadians, in addition to taste, and single-serve coffee delivers both.