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From grain to ecommerce: how illycaffè is reducing the distance between Italy and Brazil

Published on 04/14/2020

Present in over 140 countries, illycaffè uses Pagbrasil’s solutions to process payments in Brazil.

If there is anything that is intrinsic to Brazil’s history and identity, it is coffee. This product was (and still is!) so expressive in Brazilian culture that it could easily enter the list of symbols that represent the country, next to soccer, the samba, and Carnival.

Since the 19th century, the participation of coffee in the country’s economy has been extremely significant, as it has been the main export product until the beginning of the 20th century. Today, Brazil is still the number one coffee exporter in the world and the second-largest consumer, according to the International Coffee Organization.

This is why illycaffè, which, for over 80 years has dedicated itself to the improvement of a unique blend, wants to reinforce its relationship with a country with such strong roots when it comes to coffee. Frederico Canepa, CEO of illycaffè’s Brazilian branch, spoke about the participation of the Brazilian coffee producer in the company’s operations, which is recognized globally for its quality, innovation, and sustainability in coffee production.


The blend

The grain mixture from different flavors and roasting counts nine different types of arabica, a type of coffee much appreciated and which stands out for its aroma and flavor. According to Canepa, this is what makes the illy blend unique.

The elements for the blend originate from different countries in the world, including Brazil, and only the best harvests are selected.


“The percentage of Brazilian coffee in the illy blend is the highest among all the origins it is composed of,” states Canepa.


The relationship with the Brazilian producer

The Brazilian producer’s participation in illycaffè is so expressive that in 1991, the company launched the Ernesto Illy Award for the Sustainable Quality of Coffee for Espresso. In its current 29th edition, the prize marked the change in the way the Brazilian producer grows coffee.

Canepa explains that, before the award, Brazilian coffee was a commodity and its quality was underappreciated by buyers worldwide, being sold for lower prices when compared to coffees in other regions, such as Central America. With the prize, that has from the very beginning searched for the best and most homogenous coffees in the country, it is possible to recognize the producer with a higher price, in addition to a prize in cash.


“The local producer realized he could harvest a coffee with excellent quality, in addition to discovering that there was a company willing to pay more for this quality, encouraging higher effort and the costs necessary for production,” explains Canepa.


The initiative, according to Canepa, helped strengthen the relationship with the Brazilian producer:


“This event gave birth to a beautiful relationship between producers and the company, who now purchase directly with them, with no intermediates, and recognizing their value.”


Transferring knowledge from Brazil to the world

The award also originated another initiative, which, since 1999, has proposed to enhance coffee quality: The University of Coffee. The main idea was to spread the knowledge and experience the technicians of illycaffè gained after visiting many of the productive regions and advising farmers about the coffee harvest. Proposing to transfer knowledge and quality, the course encompassed all the productive lines and propagates the culture of coffee through the world.

This way, sustainable commerce was later installed in other countries and the award came to exist in other parts of the world. The Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award was born: an annual event among the finalists of every origin, who meet in New York for the global award, honoring the quality, talent and work of harvesters from around the world.


“It all began in Brazil, almost 30 years ago,” says Canepa.


Reducing distances: illycaffè in Brazil

Despite the close relationship with the Brazilian producer, the participation of illycaffè in the consumer market in the country is still low.


“We are working to reduce this distance by promoting to the Brazilian consumers our products and presenting the best and exclusive quality of illy coffee,” assures the CEO.


Canepa explains that, while the illy blend is unique, with the same excellent quality offered to all consumers in the world – including Brazilians – the company focuses on importing products that best fit local habits. One of the mainstays of the company is instant coffee, which showed a 5.6% growth in consumption in 2019, according to the Associação Brasileira da Indústria de Café Solúvel (ABICS).


“One example is illy Instant, an instant coffee that reminds the consumer of nothing that connects to this type of preparation. It is a coffee with incredible flavor and aroma, in a quick and practical preparation, fitting Brazilians’ taste,” reveals Canepa.


Illycaffè, which traditionally catered to the B2B market, now wants to grow its B2C sales through ecommerce. Thus, it invests strongly in advertising campaigns and in the import of products more suitable for local consumption.

To strengthen its relationship with the Brazilian consumer, illycaffè works with PagBrasil to process payments in Brazil for its online store. According to Canepa, this partnership helps the company maintain its focus on its own operations and deliver an excellent product that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.


“It is essential that the company works with security and agility in the digital environment, focusing exclusively on its core business and leaving PagBrasil to take care, in the most reliable manner, of all the receiving mechanisms for our sales,” the CEO explains.


With its ecommerce store, illycaffè reduces the distance between Italy and Brazil, offering the local consumer the possibility to make a purchase with any one of the most popular payment methods in the country. With PagBrasil, it is possible to choose between credit card – in installment payments or not – boleto bancário, online banking transfer, or the exclusive Boleto Flash®.

Paula Martins is a journalist specializing in Marketing. Her areas of expertise include payment methods, digital payments, and e-commerce. Currently, ... View profile

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