Over the last year, disruption to international travel has made it difficult for roasters to establish and maintain relationships with partners and traders in coffee-producing countries.
Virtual Producer & Producer Forum (PRF) serves to connect roasters, producers, and other members of the global coffee community despite the impact of Covid-19.
The online event is due to take place next week (April 5 & 6) and will be a fantastic opportunity for those involved to meet industry professionals, exchange ideas, and rekindle connections.
In preparation of Virtual PRF, we’ve answered some of your most frequently answered questions.
WHAT IS PRODUCER & ROASTER FORUM?
Producer & Roaster Forum (PRF) is a platform that brings coffee roasters and producers together in coffee-growing countries. It’s an opportunity for coffee professionals to build strong, long-term relationships, have conversations about issues and innovations in the industry, and generate millions of dollars of green bean sales. In the past, PRF has been held in El Salvador, Brazil, and Guatemala.
“PRF is an event that’s specifically catered to roasters and producers,” says PRF founder, Henry Wilson
“It’s based on years of feedback, experience, and collaboration from producers, roasters, producing organizations and industry professionals. Our aim is to allow these professionals to connect and receive real, lasting value from attending.”
In 2021, PRF forum will be hosted virtually from Honduras, the world’s fifth-largest producer of coffee by volume. More than 100 coffee roasters and 1,000 coffee producers from every continent are expected to attend, with numbers increasing each week.
Most coffee exhibitions and forums are typically held in non-producing countries, which means that many coffee producers are unable to travel to attend. Each year, PRF is hosted in a coffee-producing country, so these producers can attend and interact with buyers, traders, and coffee professionals in their home country.
Watch a video recap of previous PRF events here.
IN 2021, PRODUCER & ROASTER FORUM WILL BE HOSTED ON A VIRTUAL PLATFORM. HOW WILL THIS CHANGE THE EVENT?
In response to the Covid-19 travel restrictions, this year PRF will be hosted on a virtual platform. Like previous events, it will allow coffee professionals to network and share ideas in real-time. However, rather than attending the event physically, Virtual PRF enables roasters and producers across the world to attend from the comfort of their home or workplace.
“Being able to engage with coffee roasters, producers, and other professionals in real-time is essential to establishing and maintaining relationships in the industry,” says MTPak founder, Mark Zhou.
“With the burden of travel often placed on coffee producers, a virtual forum not only offers an opportunity to connect during a time of disrupted travel, but enables these producers to connect with buyers and colleagues across the world without having to make a significant investment.”
The Virtual PRF experience has been designed with a focus on bringing the coffee community together to interact and network. The conversion of this event to a virtual platform has also opened a range of new and exciting opportunities, including increased attendance from a wider range of countries and demographics.
There will not be any significant changes to the PRF format – like a physical event, attendees at Virtual PRF will be able to network, attend lectures and panel discussions, and create new connections with industry professionals from across the globe.
The virtual platform is also set up to enable roasters and producers to speak face-to-face before requesting or receiving samples. This helps recreate the personal experience of PRF and ensure clear communication between attendees.
IS A VIRTUAL FORUM SIMILAR TO A PHYSICAL FORUM?
Virtual PRF is being hosted on a networking platform that replicates a physical forum or expo. The platform has several different sections that attendees will be able to move between throughout the event:
The Reception area provides an overview of the event, including upcoming events and speakers, as well as a list of PRF partners and sponsors. There is also an option to go on a “walkthrough”, where you can learn about how to navigate the platform and use all the available functions.
The Sessions area provides detailed information about each of the lectures, panels and other talks happening throughout Virtual PRF, including times, speakers, and topics. In this section, you can add sessions onto a personal schedule to avoid missing the lectures and panels you want to attend. You can also learn more about the attendees, speakers, and panelists who will be at Virtual PRF.
The Arena is the main stage for virtual “booths”. Just like a physical expo, each company and organization will have an area where you can visit, ask questions, or join a discussion table to talk further about topics. You’ll be able to browse through the different companies and representatives present in the arena and learn more about them before starting a conversation. Contact details and web links will also be available should you wish to contact representatives outside of PRF.
Booth managers are able to assign different topics to tables, which means you can see what’s being discussed before joining. Some tables may have limited seats, in which case you’ll have to wait or request to join.
The Lounge is Virtual PRF’s social area, where you can go to rest or connect with other attendees between panels, lectures, and booth visits. This space will allow you to not only interact with potential customers and partners, but also generate leads and establish relationships with coffee producers.
There are two main areas in the Lounge: (i) virtual tables where you can take a seat and network face-to-face with other attendees, and (ii) a Speed Networking area where you’ll be matched with other attendees for a quick networking session. The Speed Networking service is designed to pair you with other attendees with whom you may be interested in connecting – roasters will be paired with producers, traders with exporters, and so on. If you’re paired with someone who does not speak the same language as you, the PRF team and volunteers will be on hand to assist with live translation.
WHY SHOULD COFFEE ROASTERS ATTEND VIRTUAL PRF?
Virtual PRF enables coffee roasters to speak directly to a wide range of coffee producers, traders, exporters, and industry leaders from around the world.
It provides an opportunity to establish and strengthen relationships with coffee producers and exporters in producing countries, to create new connections in the global coffee industry, and to hear from a variety of industry leaders on a range of contemporary topics.
Julio Guevara is Events Director and Co-Founder of PRF, and has organized its annual events since its inception in 2016.
“Virtual PRF is not only an opportunity to meet producers and other figures in the coffee industry, it’s an international business event tailored specifically for coffee roasters and producers where they can connect and establish working relationships,” he says.
“Using this virtual platform, we’re prioritizing knowledge sharing and relationship-building opportunities. In this way, there is real value for those who are attending.”
The producers in attendance at Virtual PRF range from small-scale growers and cooperatives, to large organizations with the capacity to source and transport vast quantities of coffee. There will be producers from every coffee-growing region in Honduras, as well as others from Central America, South America, North America, Africa, and Asia. Each one brings their own set of ideas and techniques for producing coffee, creating a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the industry and establish relationships.
WHO ELSE WILL BE AT VIRTUAL PRF?
Most attendees at Virtual PRF are coffee producers and roasters looking to establish new connections, discuss industry trends, and share knowledge.
In addition to producers and roasters, there will be a number of traders, importers, and business representatives. They represent a range of businesses, cooperatives, and organizations in the coffee industry. Like the producers and roasters, these attendees will take part in events, share their knowledge, and network. However, they will also offer a range of services to attendees.
This means that in addition to learning from the speakers and panelists at Virtual PRF, roasters will have access to connections and resources to overhaul their coffee sourcing, packaging, roasting, marketing, and more. In just one day, attendees will be able to speak with a range of different people in the supply chain, from producers, cooperatives and traders, to exporters, packaging specialists, agronomists, lawyers, bankers and researchers.
If you’re looking to engage in spot buying rather than Free On Board (FOB) or farmgate, the contacts and possibilities at Virtual PRF can make it happen.
Similar to a physical coffee forum or expo, there will be a series of booths where attendees can find out about different companies and speak to representatives. Each booth will have assigned team members and virtual “tables” that PRF attendees can join should they wish to speak to someone from these companies in a face-to-face meeting.
Each booth will also provide attendees with access to a range of downloadable materials, including product and service information, company information, contact details, and website links.
See who else is attending Virtual PRF here.
WHO’S SPEAKING AND PRESENTING AT VIRTUAL PRF?
Virtual PRF will host a large number of experienced, successful, industry-leading speakers and panelists on a wide range of coffee industry topics. These topics will range from production and harvesting, to consumer profiles, pricing models, and traceability technology.
Some of the scheduled speakers at Virtual PRF include, but are not limited to:
Lecture: ‘Analyzing the Supply Chain: Transactional Values’ – Martin Mayorga, Mayorga Organics (USA)
Lecture: ‘Reviewing the Costs of Production: A Cost-benefit Analysis’ – Karl Wienhold of Cedro Alto (Colombia/USA)
Lecture: ‘How Forward Crop Purchases Reshaped the Brazilian Market & Impacted Global Prices’ – Artur Ornelas, Mercon Coffee Group (Brazil)
Lecture: ‘How Storage and Handling Affect the Quality of Green Coffee’ – Diego Lara, GrainPro (USA/Canada)
Panel: ‘Millennial Coffee Trends’ – Ralf Ruellar (Germany) and Nicole Ferris (United Kingdom)
Panel: ‘Youth and Women in Coffee Growing: The Business Case for Inclusive Coffee Industry ‘– Rick Peyser (USA), Ana Ruth Guerra (Honduras), Dilcia Vasquez (Honduras) and Roselle Agner (Honduras) of Lutheran World Relief
Panel: ‘China: The Emerging Coffee Market’ – Natalia Li (China), Lewis Harding (China) & Brian Clark (China)
I DON’T SPEAK ANY SPANISH – WILL I BE ABLE TO COMMUNICATE WITH PRODUCERS AT VIRTUAL PRF?
As many of the attendees are from Honduras and other Central American countries, each of the panels and lectures at Virtual PRF will have translation options for Spanish and English speakers. Most lectures and panels will be presented in English, however professional translation services will be available on screen once you join.
If you wish to network with a business or individual outside of a lecture or panel but don’t have a common language, our team will be on hand to assist with live translation services. Virtual PRF will provide volunteers who will be able to help translating text messages or joining calls to help with verbal translation.
THE TIME ZONE DOESN’T WORK FOR ME. IF I BUY A TICKET, WILL I STILL BE ABLE TO SEE THE LECTURES AND PANELS?
Although Virtual PRF will be a live event, our team will be recording each of the lectures and panels that take place across the two days. These recordings will be made available to all attendees around a week after Virtual PRF, via a password-protected streaming service.
Each of the videos will be uploaded with both Spanish and English audio, and will be accessible at any time.
HOW DO I BUY A TICKET?
There is extremely limited availability left for Virtual PRF tickets. If you’re interested in attending Virtual PRF, you can purchase a ticket via the website.
This ticket will also enable you to attend and participate in Virtual PRF, as well as have access to recordings once the event is over. Recordings will be uploaded to a streaming service that attendees will be able to access via a password.
Keep up to date with news from Virtual PRF via our social media channels, like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.