Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- Ecom Agroindustrial Corp., the world’s second-largest coffee trader, is expanding its business in Europe with a new office in Italy.

The Pully, Switzerland-based company will open the office in Genoa tomorrow, according to Guillaume Zbinden, Ecom’s southern Europe coffee manager. The trader hired Davide Rocca from Louis Dreyfus Co. to lead the team in Italy, which is the third-largest coffee importer.

“Ecom’s presence in Italy has been too small compared to other countries," Zbinden said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “Our market share in Italy is too little and we believe we can increase it in the near future, making our presence more representative of our overall size."

Coffee is an intrinsic part of Italian culture and sales in the country totaled $1.9 billion last year, estimates London-based consumer research firm Euromonitor International Ltd. Italians consumed 5.6 kilograms of coffee per person last year, data from the International Coffee Organization showed.

While Italy still has many small coffee companies, roaster Luigi Lavazza SpA had the largest market share with 37 percent last year, Euromonitor said in a February report. Other Italian roasters include Segafredo Zanetti SpA and Illycaffe SpA.

"Italy is one if these markets where you have to be local, you have to speak the language, you have to understand their culture and the taste of the coffee they like," Zbinden said.

Ecom’s Italian operations will have two traders by the end of the year and grow to three next year, according to Zbinden.

To contact the reporter on this story: Isis Almeida in London at ialmeida3@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Lynn Thomasson at lthomasson@bloomberg.net, Tony Barrett

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