(Bloomberg) -- Nestle SA on Tuesday announced plans to double production capacity at a Brazilian plant that makes its Dolce Gusto coffee pods, a testament to growing consumer demand for different varieties of the drink. Yet that also presents the company with a challenge.
There are 21 types of pods in total, including some that contain tea, and the factory only manufactures 13. Pedro Feliu, head of coffee at Nestle Brazil, says the company aims to make the full range on-site.
To reach this goal, Nestle needs a specific Ethiopian coffee flavor. That’s a problem because Brazil, the world’s largest producer, bans imported beans. Buying roasted Ethiopian coffee means higher costs.
To find a solution, the Swiss company has obtained authorization from the Brazilian government to test, on a non-commercial scale, three varieties of beans developed at its research center in southern France that it hopes will replicate the qualities of Ethiopian arabica.
The beans have been planted in an undisclosed location. One of the varieties will be harvested for the first time this year and the other two in 2019, Pedro Malta, agricultural manager at Nestle Brazil, said in a telephone interview. At least another three harvests after that will be needed to ensure quality before the company considers whether it should seek government approval so local farmers can grow them commercially, he said.
If successful, the new varieties should find their way into Dolce Gusto pods. Nestle’s factory in Brazil’s Minas Gerais state already ships to Argentina, and the company sees opportunities to export to Mexico and the European Union.
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