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Datamyne Blog

Covering trade & transport, with tips on using import-export data to advantage

Reading Tea Leaves

Yerba maté arrives in Hamburg … and a hackers convention in New York

Forget coffee or green tea … have a latte made from a South American shrub, a species of holly (Ilex paraguariensis), actually. Yerba maté bars are springing up in Starbucks territory, the Pacific Northwest, reports NPR.

The only herb that contains caffeine, the practice of brewing and passing around yerba maté originated with the Guarani indians, was embraced by South Americans, and is part of social ritual in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. While various claims for yerba maté’s health benefits are unproven, U.S. devotees say it delivers caffeine’s buzz without withdrawal jitters. (You can read more about yerba maté here.)

We wanted to see if the anecdotal reports of a growing taste for yerba maté in the U.S. were backed up by the trade data: And, yes, a search of The Datamyne’s U.S. import database shows a 28% jump in volume from 2007 to 2009. Then we looked at where the shipments are coming from and found the top source country is … Germany?

But of course, this is evidence that yerba maté truly has arrived in the global marketplace. While Germany grows no tea, Hamburg is the hub of international tea trade (and host to COTECA, Europe’s first specialist coffee, tea and cocoa trade show, June 4-10). In 2007, Argentina was the top source for U.S. yerba maté. Two years later, enter the middle man, no doubt sensing a market opportunity. [See The Datamyne Top 5 Sources for U.S. Yerba Maté Imports.]

We took a closer look at the trade shift, finding in our international databases, for example, that some of Argentina’s exports have been redirected from the U.S. to Germany.

The Datamyne’s U.S. import bill-of-lading database added some interesting details. There we found Hamburg’s venerable tea import-export houses Haelssen & Lyon and Gebrueder Wallenhaupt shipping to wholesalers in the U.S.

We also found Brauerei Loscher — that would be Loscher Brewery — boosting import volumes with bottled maté bound for 2600 Enterprises in New York. We followed this lead (with some help from Google) to Club Mate, which offers the helpful explanation that “the hacker community in Germany has become thoroughly addicted to this unique carbonated, caffeinated beverage,” now available in NY metro through 2600, publishers of the hacker quarterly and organizers of The Next HOPE [Hackers on Planet Earth] conference. Too much of an outlier? Then look to Minute Maid which is offering an “energy lift” with new Minute Maid Enhanced [with yerba maté] fruit flavored juice drinks.

With one of our trade data specialists as your guide, you too can read the data to uncover trends in supply and demand for your goods or commodities. Ask us to show you how.

Date posted: May 20, 2010

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