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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 May, 2004, 14:26 GMT 15:26 UK
Brazil coffee barons target China
Coffee beans
Brazil's coffee industry is hoping to develop a lucrative new market by wooing China's 1.3 billion tea drinkers away from their favourite beverage.

Joao Antonio Lian, head of coffee exporters' body Cecafe, has called on the Brazilian government to help promote the drink in China.

He proposed sending free samples to China using government stocks.

Mr Lian's suggestion coincides with a trade visit to China by Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

He told Reuters that cost was the main factor hindering coffee sales in China, where annual consumption is limited to half a million 60 kilogramme bags - the standard unit in the international coffee trade.

That is a small fraction of the 111 million bags produced around the world every year.

"The Chinese market will be constructed with incentives," Mr Lian said.

Coffee exporters point to the example of Japan, a nation of dedicated tea drinkers 20 years ago, but now ranked as the third largest coffee consumer in the world.

Brazil, the world's biggest coffee producer, has seen exports fall by more than 15% in the first four months of 2004 because of heavy rain and a later than usual harvest.

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