Coffee and tea drinking habits in South America

Coffee and tea drinking habits in South America

Out of all the continents in the world, South America is one of the most divided regarding coffee and tea. This is ironic, considering that it is home to the world’s largest producer of coffee. Brazil produces more than 2.6 million metric tons of coffee annually.

One would expect it also to be one of the largest consumers of coffee in the world, and they would be right. Brazilians consume over 22 million bags of coffee annually. They come only second to Americans, who consume over 26 million bags of coffee annually.

It is worth noting that Brazil’s population makes up about 50% of the total South American population. Therefore, a holistic view of tea and coffee drinking habits may be a bit skewed in favor of Brazil.

However, other countries in South America, like Chile and Argentina, prefer tea. The average tea drinker in Chile, according to Statista, consumes about 427 cups of coffee annually. This number towers over Brazil’s 11 cups per year.

In this article, we will explore the differences in preferences between various countries in South America and more.

Tea drinking habits in South America

As previously mentioned, Chile is the leading consumer of tea in South America. However, other countries like Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, and Peru also drink a considerable amount of tea.

In recent years, tea has seen a steady rise in the number of consumers. This can be attributed to the perception people have of tea in the region. It is believed that tea is a natural drink with numerous health benefits.

The most sought-after attribute tea is believed to have is its ability to help lose weight. Whether this is true remains a subject of contention. However, depending on the type of tea consumed, there are many other perceived benefits.

For instance, some people believe that some types of tea can help one sleep better. Others believe that tea can help heal various illnesses. A large number of people also enjoy the calmness that comes with enjoying a cup of tea.

In an interesting twist, one leading cause of the linear growth of tea consumers is the wide consumption of coffee in the market. The more coffee shops are opened across the continent, the more tea people consume.

To avoid the monotony of selling coffee and generate more revenue, coffee shops try to educate people on the various types of teas available. People are willing to experiment, and this leads to the expansion of the consumer base.

Now, as with other parts of the world where tea is popular, black tea is the most preferred. Over 70% of the tea consumed in South America is black tea. Other types, like herbal and fruit teas, have a much smaller market share.

For most people, black tea is a daily drink that’s commonly consumed in the morning. And even though people have been drinking it for ages, it is not regarded as a special drink. It is readily available, and that causes its price to stay within most people’s reach.

On the other hand, teas infused with various fruit flavors, along with herbal teas, are less common. They are more costly, and their prices prevent most people from drinking them as often as they would want. However, people still strive to purchase them because they are perceived to have more health benefits than regular black tea.

Finally, it wouldn’t be proper to discuss tea in South America without mentioning Yerba mate. This tea is considered a ‘super beverage.’ It contains the best of both worlds. It has the kick of a cup of coffee with the taste of tea, bitter tea. It would take a regular tea drinker some time to get used to the bitterness.

Yerba mate has been around for a few hundred years. It is extracted from the leaves of the Ilex paraguariensis plant.

For most people, Yerba mate is a medicinal beverage. They drink it for the wellness value it offers them.

Coffee drinking habits in South America

While Brazil leads the pack with over 22 million 60-kg coffee bags consumed annually, Mexico comes second with just over 2.4 million bags. The difference is huge. Brazil drinks so much coffee that the total amount of coffee consumed by the succeeding four countries on that list is not even half what Brazil consumes.

The high consumption rate in Brazil may be attributed to the high penetration rate of giant American coffee chains like Starbucks, even though other factors like cultural influence may have a role to play in the ever-increasing consumption of coffee.

Supermarkets and hypermarkets also play a huge part in the consumption of coffee. Since there are numerous coffee brands in the country, they are exposed to the customers on the shelves. This prompts more purchases from people whose purchasing power is also growing consistently.

More people in South America could be drinking coffee, but the age-old issue of finances prevents most from drinking the very beverage they help produce as much as they would want.

Because cheaper carbonated drinks have infiltrated the market, it is cheaper for an individual to consume one of those instead of coffee.

Additionally, although South America has grown coffee for a while, it has mostly been for export. The locals never used to appreciate coffee as a beverage, but that has been changing. For the last two decades, the number of South Americans drinking coffee has been on the rise.

Their preferred type of coffee is espresso—plain coffee with a strong flavor. Roasted ground coffee seems to be a favorite among many too. Additionally, coffee capsules have been experiencing some growth. People love them for their practicality and ease of use.

As people continue to learn more about coffee, the demand for premium coffee keeps growing. The growth in the coffee capsule segment has prompted organizations like Nestle to invest over BRL 420 million in constructing a Nescafe Dolce Gusto factory in Montes Claros, Brazil.

As a private label entrepreneur, Brazil might be a good place to establish yourself since the industry is still in its infancy steps.

Final Thoughts: Coffee and tea drinking habits in South America

It will take a while to see many people drinking tea or coffee in South America. We have seen that companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi have flooded the market with their products. They have also deeply integrated themselves with the communities to the point where communities have fully embraced their products.

There is no singular organization to market tea or coffee in the same way soft drinks are marketed. You can see why it will take ages for these drinks to be widely accepted. There simply aren’t many incentives for people to make the jump.

Despite all odds, the quality of life in most countries on this continent is constantly improving. The average income per household is also increasing. We hope to see more people make the more sensible choice and move away from artificial carbonated soft drinks to more natural alternatives like tea or coffee.





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