The Price of Cascara in El Salvador
Last week, Bloomberg published a piece about cascara fetching a higher price than green coffee. As a baseline, I get excited anytime that an article is published about cascara. The main hurdle we face is education. If ten more people know what cascara is because of an article online, that's a big win for Nomad and our cascara brewing peers.
This article seemed to pick up a lot of steam. Some of that has to do with it being in Bloomberg, but some definitely has to do with the sensational title. Cascara at $7 per pound?! When coffee fetches a lowly $1.2?? Crazy!
While factually correct, it's an oversimplification. Aida is one of the best coffee producers in the world. Her coffees sell on the specialty market for well above the commodity price of $1.2/lb. Her cascara also sells for much more, due to quality and strength of her "brand".
In the specialty world, we've seen cascara prices vary widely. We've seen farmers who will happily sell for less than $1 per pound, and farmers seeking as much as $50 per pound (shout out to our friends at Gold Mountain Coffee Growers).
Quality is tied to price. The cheap stuff? Usually hasn't been treated with the care necessary to make it food safe or delicious. The expensive stuff? It comes from farms that produce a high quality cascara, and want to operate in an ethical manner (higher wages, investments in environmental practices). But, bear in mind that a farm will almost always sell their cascara for much less than their green coffee. Our main partner sells coffees for double, and even triple what they sell us cascara for. Green coffees sell on the market and at auction at some astoundingly high prices.
Supply is much greater than demand. I'd bet that fewer than 250,000lbs of cascara are traded annually. That's for an estimated 12 billion pounds of crop. As the market develops, pricing will change. Currently, only more developed specialty coffee farms have access to the cascara market, and it's highly focused on specialty. Hopefully, the small farms selling their coffee at commodity price will one day be able to monetize every part of their production.
In the end, this article is kind of like saying "Spoiled, fermented, French grape juice sells for 1000% more than Welches!" That title gets people to click on it. And if more people click on it because of an exciting title, then more people know what cascara is, and we're all winners.