SAO PAULO, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Colombia, the world's third largest coffee producer, plans to measure the carbon footprint of most of its production so that the roasters that buy the beans can create, or expand, offerings of carbon neutral brands.
The Colombian Coffee Federation (FNC) decided to develop a methodology to measure the sector's greenhouse gas emissions following requests from clients in Europe and the United States.
FNC plans to offer roasters precise carbon footprint data so that the roasters can buy offsets to neutralize the emissions and sell carbon-free coffee.
"We want to know what our carbon footprint is when a client asks us," said Fernando Gast, who heads FNC's coffee research center.
"It is also a market opportunity," he said, referring to consumer demand for carbon-free products.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Colombia will produce 10 million bags (60 kg) of coffee in the 2013/14 season. The country has built a reputation for high-quality coffee that is sought after by gourmet brands.
Gast said the FNC, which represents about 500,000 coffee-growing families, aims to develop precise emissions data for all the producing regions in the country.
Experts say the trend toward carbon neutral products is likely to last.
Ernesto Cavasin, a PwC sustainability consultant for Latin America, says the amount of information available about global warming has increased drastically in recent years, and that it tends to influence consumer habits.
"A company that earns carbon-free certification on a product will certainly differentiate itself from competitors," he said. (Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by Peter Galloway)