Thursday, April 28, 2011

Product and Pricing Update

We have some great new products. Some are on the site now, others will be posted shortly.

Highlands Traditional Blend - This is one of Highlands 5 blends, and the only one we did not buy from the start of our distributorship. Highlands has 4 espressos and 5 ground coffees, and we thought that was too may options to spring on people in a new product line. However, when we sampled the Traditional Blend recently at our open houses, everybody was very enthusiastic, so we have just gotten in a new shipment that includes the Traditional Blend. This is a Robusta-based blend that is roasted in the style of small cafés and roasters as you might find in the countryside in Vietnam, a product tradition extending back almost 100 years. Very nice!

G7 Passiona Instant - Yes, it's true, Trung Nguyen has finally created a sugarfree and lower caffeine instant coffee with the same fabulous taste as traditional G7. They envisioned this coffee as the perfect "alternative" coffee with a health-promoting twist. The ingredients are famous G7-dry-process naturally low caffeine coffee, non-dairy creamer (vegetarian), "dietary sugar" (sugar alcohol, most likely Erythritol or Xylitol - we are waiting for the exact translation), and a small percentage of artichoke and chrysanthemum, included for their mild health benefits and relaxing properties. Why drink this coffee? The taste is simply amazing. Dark and deep, yet substantially guilt-free (if sugar or caffeine makes you feel at all guilty!), it's a fabulous taste experience you can get from just an instant packet that you can take anywhere and enjoy with just hot water and a cup. We will be including a free sachet in our G7 sampler pack, but really, spring for the cost of buying a box if you have any interest at all in this type of product. You will NOT be disappointed. And if you ARE trying to cut your caffeine or sugar, so much the better.

G7 newest shipment - we are buying G7 "domestically" from our agent in Vietnam because we can place smaller orders more frequently, and get some variations of the product that we can't get through the export channel. One example is the new 24-sachet bag of G7 3-in-1. The bag is the favorite package among our customers, for reasons we don't quite understand... probably a slight preference for sachets over café sticks, and the flexibility of the packet for carrying in purses or storing at work. But in 2008 Trung Nguyen dropped the 24 sachets to 22 sachets in the bag. Now, we are able to get the original 24 sachets again on the domestic market. People who love the bag will rejoice! Watch for the return of the 24-sachet bag.


Prices! Everybody expects coffee prices to skyrocket. We heard reports of local diners here paying 50% increases for their coffee service. Well, they should be buying from us, or other contract grower representatives, because this is case when contract growing can actually save the consumer money. We buy 90% from companies using contract growing agreements with their producers, and we never use middlemen or commodity brokers, so in fact, the recent increases in coffee prices have not affected us. Our producers pay their growers the price they ask for, and the coffee is not placed on the open commodities market, so it is not subject to speculation due to shortages in countries that are not relevant.

We do not expect increases in our ground coffees for several months. We have had to pay increases in whole bean Trung Nguyen coffees because we buy those on the domestic market, and transportation (yes, the price of oil) has caused a 15% increase. Also, the devaluation of the dollar versus the dong has caused another 12% increase. So, you will see whole bean prices going up, but less than what is being experienced on the average international level.

Note that many branded retailers will simply buy lesser grades of coffee and pass them off as their usual blends, which results in poorer taste and quality. This is the standard response to sudden spikes. We do not do this. Because we do not buy coffees traded on the commodities markets, we are fairly immune from speculators and artificial pricing hikes. So, aside from an increase in whole bean due to transportation cost increases and the dollar situation, we will be holding the line for the immediate future.