Roaster/Retailer Financial Benchmarking Study

By Heather Ward

Within the last few years, SCA’s research initiatives have developed to focus more attention on business insights. The idea is to deliver business information to people and companies in the specialty coffee business, contributing to the support of more informed business decisions. One way to deliver insights is through the Specialty Coffee Roaster/Retailer Financial Benchmarking Study. This is a tool that offers roasters and retailers a way of measuring their company performance against the objective industry standard, a process called benchmarking.

The idea for this study transpired over 20 years ago when coffee roasters in the community were requesting shared business information. They were seeking help with writing their business plans, setting sales targets, or just looking for industry norms. They wanted data and evidence of what the industry was doing to support their business decisions, rather than going off gut feelings or assumptions.

The first large study was deployed in 2015 that collected roasters’ financial, sales, and operational data. The three main objectives were to:

  • Provide comparative benchmark information in which roasting companies can compare their financial performance relative to other companies
  • Determine roaster challenges
  • Determine the market size of roasters in the US & Canada

The 2015 study resulted in a static report that provided industry benchmarks broken out into on eight groupings: all roasters, profit leaders (based on highest return on assets), net sales, company type, pounds of coffee roaster per year, number of locations, community size served, primary facility location, and SCAA membership. The top three greatest threats roasters in this study were facing was increased prices, saturated markets, and the health of the economy. As of 2015, the estimated number of roasting companies was 4,200 in the U.S. and 300 in Canada.

Moving forward, in partnership with Pacific Bag, is the second iteration of the financial benchmarking survey. The main objective remains to provide benchmark information and the 2017 survey includes three significant improvements from 2015. First, the survey has been moved to an online platform where data can be entered and results can be accessed. Customized reports can be instantly downloaded based on the user’s needs. Second, two separate surveys will be deployed: one in the U.S., presented in U.S. dollar and the second in Europe presented in the Euro. Third, the survey is extended to roaster retailers (non-roasters) as a separate segment.

The survey is officially open for data collection and can be accessed here.

The results are expected to be released in June and companies who fill out the survey will get free access to the results. I invite you to make the most of this extraordinarily useful tool and use it not only to benchmark your own business but also to contribute to the overall collaborative effort of making the coffee industry better.

Heather Ward is the Research Analyst for the Specialty Coffee Association.

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