Single-serve pods may be reducing demand for coffee

WASHINGTON – If you’re a coffee drinker, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with single-serve brewing made popular by Keurig Green Mountain Inc.

The surge in popularity of single-serve pods and accompanying machines is putting a dent in demand growth for the $52 billion U.S. market, Bloomberg Business reports. The little cups are more efficient than brewing with a traditional drip machine, which often leaves drinkers pouring out excess coffee at the end of a pot.

“The coffee market has lost its best consumer: the kitchen sink,” Hernando de la Roche, a senior vice president at INTL FCStone, in Miami, told Bloomberg Business. “Roasters are telling us that single-cup coffee has been reducing demand.”

The National Coffee Association says that about 27 percent of consumers own single-serve coffee brewers, the greatest percentage ever. Bloomberg Business also cites Chicago-based researcher IRI as saying that single-serve pods account for 12 percent of coffee sold by U.S. retailers. The pods represent 36 percent of total sales, as they are more costly per pound than beans or grounds.

Bloomberg Business says data show coffee demand is dropping, except when it comes to single-serve options. And a National Coffee Association survey finds the percentage of Americans who drink coffee daily has fallen about 4 percent over the past two years.

The plastic cups have recently come under fire as environmental groups pointed to the pods piling up in landfills. Keurig Green Mountain says 9.8 billion K-Cups were sold in 2014, with most headed to landfills after use, old coffee grounds and all. K-Cups are not biodegradable, and most are not recyclable.

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