Weekly Coffee News
May 01, 2013
Brazil delays publication of national coffee stocks data -CNC – RTRS
April 23, 2013
Price forecasts for arabica coffee futures in New York, lowered
April 23 (Bloomberg) — Goldman Sachs Group Inc. lowered its price forecasts for arabica coffee futures in New York, citing an improving production outlook in leading grower Brazil.
Prices will be at $1.45 a pound in three, six and 12 months, the bank said in a report e-mailed today. That is down from previous forecasts of $1.55 a pound, $1.65 a pound and $1.75 a pound, respectively, it said. Arabica futures for delivery in July fell 0.6 percent to $1.4225 a pound by 9:14 a.m. on the ICE Futures U.S. exchange in New York.
Brazil will harvest 47 million to 50.2 million bags of coffee this year, Conab, the government’s crop-forecasting agency, estimates. That is down from 50.8 million bags a year earlier and may be a record for a year in which trees enter the lower-yielding half of a two-year cycle.
“Although 2013-14 is the low-yielding production year in Brazil’s biennial cycle, favorable rains in March point to an even larger off-year crop, already forecast to reach record volumes,” Damien Courvalin, an analyst at Goldman Sachs in New York, wrote in the report. “The arabica market will likely only be in a modest deficit or even remain balanced in 2013-14.”
The improved outlook for the crop in Brazil means supplies there will compensate for production losses caused by coffee leaf rust disease in Central America, he said. The epidemic is the worst case since the disease appeared in the region in 1976, according to the International Coffee Organization in London.
While further cuts to production estimates in Central America may “provide modest support to prices,” sales of leftover stockpiles from the last crop in Brazil may “weigh on prices in coming months,” according to Goldman Sachs.
Brazilian growers sold 75 percent of the 2012-13 crop by March 31, down from 86 percent a year earlier, Gil Barabach, a market analyst at Safras & Mercado, estimates.
The global sugar market is heading for a third year of surpluses in the 2013-14 season that starts in October in most countries, the bank said. Excess supplies will result from a large sugar cane crop in Brazil’s center south, the main growing region of the world’s top producer, and as growers continue to replant.
“The increase in Brazil sugarcane crush will allow for both an increase in sugar and ethanol production,” Courvalin said.
Sugar prices will be at 18.50 cents a pound in three and six months and at 19 cents a pound in 12 months, the bank forecasts. Delays to the start of the harvest in Brazil’s center south because of rains were compensated by bigger-than-forecast harvests in Thailand and India, the second-biggest grower.
“A quick ramp up to the 2013-14 Brazil harvest creates downside risks to our forecast in the first half of 2013,” Courvalin said. “In turn, potential support to prices could come either from a potential further hike in Brazil’s gasoline prices or cut to ethanol taxes which would increase ethanol’s relative profitability over sugar or potential weather, production disappointments in India, Russia and Ukraine later this year.”
Raw sugar for July delivery fell 0.3 percent to 17.68 cents a pound in New York
April 09, 2013
Buzzkill? How Climate Change Could Eventually End Coffee
Buzzkill? How Climate Change Could Eventually End Coffee
Researchers are desperately trying to keep up with new threats to the plant caused by global warming
March 27, 2013
Millions around the world wake up and brew a cup of coffee before they start their day. But for many involved in the industry, a caffeine buzz isn’t keeping them up at night—instead, what’s causing insomnia is the increasing difficulty that climate change causes coffee farmers.
Coffee is one of the world’s most traded commodities. Each year, more than $15 billion worth of coffee is exported from 52 countries—many of which are still developing and rely on the crop to buoy their economies. The industry employs some 26 million people worldwide.
But in recent years, keeping the world’s coffee drinkers supplied has become increasingly difficult: The spread of a deadly fungus that has been linked to global warming and rising global temperatures in the tropical countries where coffee grows has researchers scrambling to create new varieties of coffee plants that can keep pace with these new threats without reducing quality.
While coffee researchers can do little to prevent climate change, they’re hard at work to keep up as Earth braces for temperature increases of several degrees over the next several decades.
“Coffee is the canary in the coal mine for climate change,” says Ric Rhinehart, executive director of the Specialty Coffee Association of America. “If you can’t think about the long term risk for planetary impacts, think about the short term risk for your coffee. Know that a day without coffee is potentially around the corner.”
The problem has gotten so bad that on March 18, Starbucks bought its first ever coffee farm, specifically to research new climate change-resistant coffee varieties.
“The threats climate change pose isn’t a surprise to us,” says Haley Drage, representative for the company. “We’ve been working on this for more than 10 years and it’s something we continue to work with farmers on.”
For most coffee drinkers, there’s no finer bean than Arabica, a variety that originated in Ethiopia and has since been cultivated in tropical regions around the world. It accounts for most of the United States’ coffee consumption.
Unfortunately, that species is particularly susceptible to climate change. In 2012, researchers at England’s Royal Botanic Gardens suggested that rising temperatures could make naturally occurring Arabica become a thing of the past, with nearly 100 percent of the places where it grows in the wild—mostly Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya—becoming unsuitable for the plant by 2080.
The outlook isn’t much better for countries in South and Central America that cultivate Arabica. Within a couple decades, researchers fear, coffee might have to be grown in the Northern Hemisphere, putting countries that rely on the crop in an economically tight spot.
“By 2050, Nicaragua will hardly be a coffee producer anymore,” says Tim Schilling, executive director of the World Coffee Research Center. “It’s possible that instead of sourcing coffee from Guatemala, you’ll be doing it from Texas or the south of France.”
The good news is that besides Arabica, there’s another variety of coffee that is much easier to grow. The bad news? Most coffee lovers agree that it tastes terrible.
Essentially all of the world’s coffee comes from one of two species: Arabica and Robusta. There are others, but they don’t make a dent in worldwide consumption numbers. When Americans think of coffee, they think of Arabica—it’s what’s used in most drip coffee makers, espresso machines and sold in specialty coffee shops. It tastes smooth and bold.
It also requires “Goldilocks” conditions in order to grow, says Mauricio Galindo, head of operations at the London-based International Coffee Organization, a group that tracks the global coffee market and threats to coffee production.
“Arabicas are the ones at risk—they’re very delicate trees,” he says. “They depend on conditions that are not too warm, not too cold, not too wet, not too dry.”
Besides needing near-perfect conditions to grow, Arabica is also highly vulnerable to a fungus known as coffee leaf rust, a disease that originated in Africa and Asia but has since spread to every coffee-growing region except for Hawaii and Australia. As its name implies, the fungus turns a coffee plant’s leaves a dark brown, causing leaves to eventually fall off. An infected tree will have a lower coffee yield and may eventually die.
Left unchecked, coffee rust has the potential to completely destroy a country’s crop. In the mid 1860s, the disease essentially wiped out all of Sri Lanka’s coffee plantations. More than 100 years later, Sri Lanka still doesn’t have any significant coffee production, according to the International Coffee Organization.
For decades, coffee farmers in South and Central America were insulated from the disease’s effects because coffee plants in the Americas are grown in the cool mountains, where temperatures weren’t warm enough to be suitable for the plant. But in the 1970s, the first cases of coffee rust reached Brazil, and increasing temperatures and rainfall caused by climate change have allowed the fungus to live at higher altitudes.
According to Galindo, “everything points to climate change being the main factor influencing this explosion in coffee leaf rust.”
In February, Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina declared a state of emergency in the country after an estimated 70 percent of its coffee plants had been infected with the disease. The country’s estimated 2013-2014 coffee haul could be reduced by more than 40 percent, and the fungus has caused similar problems for Guatemala’s neighbors.
While Arabica coffee around the world has been devastated by coffee rust, Robusta is doing just fine. Generally grown in southeast Asia, parts of Africa and Brazil, the variety can handle wide temperature and moisture changes, is naturally resistant to coffee rust, and is cheap to produce and easy to grow. It’s generally used in instant coffee and flavored blends, where its acidic taste can be hidden.
Most coffee drinkers—at least those concerned with taste—don’t like it.
“Robusta is much more tolerant of climate change, it has better heat tolerance, it’s less dependent on orderly rainfall,” Rhinehart says. “Unfortunately it doesn’t taste as good in the cup.”
That leaves few options for countries such as Colombia, which pride itself on its fine Arabicas.
Coffee is known as an “orphan crop,” meaning that, internationally, little money is spent trying to understand how it is grown. There are countless organizations and companies dedicated to trying to grow better wheat, soybeans, corn and rice, an estimated $100 million annually is spent on learning how to grow a better coffee bean.
For decades, developing countries grew coffee and shipped it off to the developed world. The climate in coffee producing countries such as Costa Rica, Colombia, Ethiopia and Vietnam was relatively stable, and coffee hauls were generally predictable. That has changed recently as rust has spread and more variable temperatures have reduced coffee hauls.
“For most of the period we’ve been importing coffee, it’s been grown in countries with emerging economies facing economic challenges,” says Rhinehart, of the Specialty Coffee Association of America. “There was no significant coffee production in the industrialized north, so there was no investment from the consuming side into understanding coffee genetics and quality.”
Most of those countries couldn’t afford to put the resources into coffee research centers—with one notable exception: Colombia.
Since 1927, Colombia’s Cenicafe research center, located in the country’s main coffee hub of Manizales, has been one of the world’s most important resources in combating diseases that plague coffee.
By crossing Arabica plants that seem more resistant to rust for several generations, a heartier plant can be grown. It’s a process that can take decades: In 1982, Cenicafe released its first coffee rust-resistant bean, called the Colombia Variety. In 2005, it released a second generation plant, called Castillo, which is even more resistant to the fungus.
Though Cenicafe is probably the world’s most advanced coffee research center, with more than 60 researchers spread throughout Colombia, it’s still fighting an uphill battle against coffee rust.
Due to an abnormally wet season in 2008 caused by La Nina, the country, which historically produces about 12 million 60 kilogram bags of coffee annually, produced just 7.5 million bags as its crop was devastated by rust.
Alvaro Gaitan, a lead researcher at Cenicafe, says the worldwide economic downturn increased the cost of fertilizers and fungicides to a point where coffee farmers in the country couldn’t afford them. La Nina caused increased rain and cloudiness throughout the growing season.
“Under those conditions, coffee rust is very happy attacking plants,” he says.
Creating a rust-resistant plant is one thing; getting it to Colombia’s half million farmers—whose average farm is just 4 acres—and convincing them to use it is another.
Luis Fernando Samper, of the Colombian Coffee Federation, says the Colombian government has spent $1.4 billion over the past five years trying to replace coffee plants with rust-resistant varieties. It costs farmers $1,200 per acre to replace existing coffee plants with resistant strains, and often that money is fronted by the government. The government expects to offer nearly 200,000 loans of about $3,000 each by the time most farmers have replaced their plants with resistant strains.
Replacing the country’s entire crop of coffee plants requires outreach to farmers, new banking services for the loans and researcher assistance in choosing which seeds are best to plant in certain regions.
“It’s a huge challenge. It’s like putting a little orchestra together,” Samper says. “Certain farmers are skeptical until we can convince them that the quality is as good or better than what they had before.”
Because creating a resistant Arabica plant often requires researchers to cross it with a Robusta plant that naturally has rust resistance, coffee purists have long alleged that rust-resistant coffee doesn’t taste as good, a claim that Gaitan denies and says was born out of hastily produced rust-resistant varieties in Central America.
“That’s a myth going on in the market. What happens sometimes is if you’re not rigorous about quality, you end up with plants that have resistance, but don’t taste good,” he says.
Rhinehart, whose organization is responsible for setting specialty coffee standards, says that the idea that hybrid coffee plants generally produce worse-tasting beans is, more often than not, true.
“It’s not fair to say that efforts to increase resistance to rust necessarily result in bad tasting coffee,” he says. “But to date, the best-tasting coffees haven’t been rust resistant.”
One of the farmers who was eventually convinced to make the switch is Yoli Urresi, a 35-year-old farmer near the tiny southeastern town of Timbio. In 2008, “the seasons varied a lot,” she says.
“When it was summer, it rained a lot, more than usual,” leading to problems with coffee rust, she says, which led her to switch most of her plants to the Castillo variety three years ago. She is finally able to harvest the beans because it takes up to three years for newly planted coffee trees to bear fruit. In the meantime, she continued to grow some older varieties of the plant in order to keep production up.
“A month ago, there was hail and the Castillo plant has actually been resistant to it,” she says. Older varieties of coffee were damaged by the hail.
Colombia’s $1.4 billion plan to replace its old coffee plants has enabled the country’s coffee production to slowly recover from the 2008 down year.
That recovery can be attributed to Cenicafe, which spent more than 12 years working on its first rust-resistant plants and successfully developed the Colombia Variety a year before the first confirmed case of coffee rust in the country. It has since turned its sights on what Gaitan calls the “varieties of the future,” which will have to be even more resistant to climate change and potentially other diseases that have not yet hit the Americas.
“We have been working continuously on this through 80 years of research,” Gaitan says.
So while Colombia is already looking past coffee rust, the same can’t be said of countries such as Guatemala and Nicaragua, Rhinehart says.
“Colombia has a very sophisticated research program, but its mandate is to improve coffee for Colombian coffee farmers,” he says. “By definition, it’s not accessible to Guatemalans or Costa Ricans or Kenyans.”
Gaitan concurs: “Unfortunately for other countries, there’s not a lot of research on coffee. … For those facing the future without good scientific support, it’s going to be hard.”
That’s where the World Coffee Research Center, headquartered at Texas A&M University, comes in. Founded in 2012 and funded by several major coffee roasters including Green Mountain Coffee, the center aims to work with groups such as Cenicafe to find out just what can be done to adapt coffee to global warming.
“There has been no global research effort that links all the different coffee research,” says Schilling, the group’s executive director. “Colombia has to take care of Colombia. They don’t want to share. We’re here to work together to produce research that will progress everybody.”
For the first time, an international organization is looking at DNA sequencing of coffee plants, trying to improve the species’ genetic diversity to better withstand disease and varying climates. Its goal is to eventually create coffee plants that can withstand temperature increases of up to 6 degrees Fahrenheit while “maintaining or increasing quality and yield.”
They are trying to recreate in the lab what had been occurring in wild Arabica populations in Ethiopia for years—many naturally occurring coffee plants have evolved to be resistant to rust. Those varieties are often bred together to create more resistant cultivated varieties. But with wild populations quickly dwindling due to increasing temperatures in Africa, Schilling says the “genetic toolbox” that researchers have to play with has “quickly become constrained.”
“There’s not a lot of building blocks to work with,” he says. “For the first time, we’re trying DNA resequencing to expand the genetic potential of the species tenfold over what has been utilized before. We’re trying to create coffee that’s resistant to disease, and has good quality and yielding genes.”
Despite the ongoing war coffee farmers have been fighting with climate change, consumers have likely not noticed much change in their daily routines. According to the International Coffee Organization, global coffee prices spiked in 2008 due to the scarcity of Colombian Arabicas, but have since fallen to pre-2008 levels as Colombia ramped production back up and farmers in Africa learned that growing coffee under shade trees can effectively lower temperatures by as much as 5 degrees.
But as Central America continues to struggle with coffee rust, worldwide demand for coffee grows and the climate continues to worsen, there’s only so much researchers can do. Coffee roasters have already started using more Robusta coffee in blends to get more bang for their buck, and though separate research is being done to improve the taste of Robusta, it’s unlikely to ever rival Arabica.
“Robusta farmers have worked on a quantity basis, but in general it’s just not as good tasting,” Rhinehart, of the Specialty Coffee Association of America says. “It’s not impossible to make Robusta taste better, but I haven’t seen it yet.”
That means Americans might have to get used to worse-tasting coffee if Arabica eventually succumbs to coffee rust, warming temperatures or one of the many other diseases that can affect it.
“In the near term, it’s not going to be that you can’t get a cup of coffee, but the quality of the cup will suffer,” Rhinehart says. “And if we don’t dramatically change our approach to carbon emissions, then all the adaptation strategies in the world will be all for nothing, and frankly, the loss of coffee will be the last thing we’ll be worried about.”
March 15, 2013
Exportadora Atlantic, ECOM Nicaragua, teams up with Grounds for Health
Cervical Cancer Prevention Campaign Recognizes International Women’s Day
“In commemoration of International Women’s Day, Exportadora Atlantic S.A. and Grounds for Health invite you
to the Cervical Cancer Prevention Campaign, March 7th at the Lacayo Farfan health center, starting at 8 am.”
On March 7, 2013 Exportadora Atlantic, ECOM’s Nicaragua branch, teamed up with Grounds for
Health to carry out a cervical cancer prevention campaign in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. The campaign,
which offered same-day screening and treatment for early signs of cervical cancer benefitted women
associated with Exportadora’s dry processing mill as well as other women in the community of
Sébaco and Matagalpa. A total of 69 women attended the campaign and received screening services,
8 of whom tested positive and were treated with cryotherapy on the same day (100% treatment rate).
Funding for this activity was provided by ECOM Foundation as part of a two-year grant awarded to
Grounds for Health in 2012 to support collaborative projects with coffee cooperatives to address
the unacceptably high rate of cervical cancer in these regions. Grounds for Health’s model for
addressing cervical cancer builds long-term capacity in the health system and the community and
demonstrates an effective model for strengthening primary care services in rural areas.
Description of Activity
Grounds for Health’s collaboration with CECOCAFEN co-op and the local Ministry of Health in
Matagalpa from 2008 to 2011 contributed to a strong and lasting network of community health
promoters and providers dedicated to improving cervical cancer screening and treatment services in
the region. Local partners assumed full responsibility for sustaining screening and treatment services
in 2011, and have remained active and responsive to the needs of coffee communities in the region.
In March 2013, Grounds for Health and Exportadora Atlantic engaged Ministry of Health partners
in Matagalpa to benefit women associated with Exportadora Atlantic’s dry processing mill in the
nearby community of Sébaco. Grounds for Health arranged permission for the use of four consult
rooms at the hospital Lacayo Farfan in Matagalpa and secured support from four providers
previously trained by Grounds for Health to conduct a screen-and-treat campaign for women
associated with Exportadora’s dry processing mill in Sébaco. The date for the event was set for
March 7, 2013, just as the harvest was ending and in recognition of International Women’s Day on
In preparation for the campaign, Dr. Barinia Osejo visited Exportadora Atlantic’s mill in Sébaco and
gave an educational talk on cervical cancer prevention to men and women associated with the mill.
The talk provided an opportunity for Exportadora Atlantic’s community to learn more about
Grounds for Health, the burden of cervical cancer in Nicaragua, and how to prevent it. Women
aged 30-50 who had not had a prior screening test, or who had not been tested in three years or
more, were invited to the campaign.
Personnel from across Exportadora Atlantic pitched in to help get ready for the event and provided
essential support throughout the campaign day. ECOM vehicles transported supplies to the
campaign site where additional staff from the mill were standing by to set up tables and chairs, signs,
and stations for registration, high level disinfection, and counseling. During the campaign, personnel
from Exportadora Atlantic worked to register women, and provide refreshments for women and
Results of the Screen-and-Treat Campaign
During the one day campaign, 69 women were screened for early signs of cervical cancer. A total of
8 women were diagnosed with a VIA positive lesion, 8 (100%) of whom met the criteria for sameday
treatment. All 8 (100%) of the women with VIA positive lesions appropriate for cryotherapy
were treated using the Single Visit Approach. Thirteen women were not eligible for testing with VIA
due to their age and received a Pap test instead. The Pap tests were hand delivered to the local lab
for processing. The Pap results will be returned within one month. A summary of campaign results
is presented below.
*Of the 69 women screened, 13 women were not eligible for screening with VIA due to their age and received a Pap
test instead. Their Pap tests are being processed by the local lab and will be returned to the women within one month.
Grounds for Health in-country coordinator Dr. Barinia Osejo (center) with staff from Exportadora Atlantic at the Lacayo Farfan
Hospital on the day of the campaign.
Screening and Treatment uptake from campaigns:
Women screened * 69
Women within target group (aged 30-50 or HIV positive) 49 (71%)
Women screened with VIA* 54
Women with abnormal VIA result 8
Women with abnormal VIA result who met treatment criteria 8
Women with abnormal result and eligible for cryo who received treatment during the campaign 8/8 (100%)
Women with abnormal result not eligible for cryo who were referred for further diagnostics or treatment
(ex: suspicious for cancer, lesion too large) 0
March 07, 2013
Colombia Says Deal Near that Would End Coffee Strike
By Dan Molinski
BOGOTA, Colombia–A top Colombian official said Thursday a two-week-old strike by coffee growers upset over falling prices is nearing an end, though he said negotiators from the two sides are yet to strike a deal on the key issue of subsidies.
“There’s moderate optimism that today we’ll reach an agreement,” Agriculture Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo told Caracol Radio. A deal he said, “is now a question of hours, not days.”
Coffee farmers, meanwhile, said they want to end the strike and get back to work, but only if the government offers subsidies that enable them to stop losing money on the coffee they produce.
“I can’t make a living anymore,” Tiberio Nieto, who has a 30-acre coffee farm in the southern state of Huila, said by telephone. “And the subsidies they’re offering so far don’t fix that.”
Some 570,000 Colombian families make a living from coffee farming, and Colombia is among the world’s top coffee exporters. Tens of thousands of growers began protests at the beginning of last week, saying the government subsidies are insufficient to cover falling global prices. The protests have sometimes turned violent and many farmers have set up highway blockades that have led to food and fuel shortages in many towns and smaller cities.
The farmers have seen the price they receive for each 275-pound bag of parchment coffee fall 38% over the past year. In mid-February the price they received, which varies day to day based on global prices, was as little as $270 a bag, compared with $437 a bag a year ago.
To make up for this, the government has been bumping up its subsidy little by little, and a few days ago started paying farmers an extra $63 per bag.
Mr. Tiberio said his production costs for a 275-bag of coffee, including labor, insecticides and other costs, is $300. On Wednesday, the market price for a bag was $284. So, including the $63 subsidy, he made $47 over production costs.
“The problem, though, is that prices could keep falling. What we need is a promise from the government to give us a support price, a base price for each bag,” Mr. Tiberio. The protesters have said the government should guarantee farmers at least between $360 and $415 per bag.
But the government, apparently concerned that global coffee prices could fall further, has said it won’t offer any support price.
Mr. Restrepo, the agriculture minister, said those who are negotiating on behalf of the coffee farmers indicated a willingness Wednesday night to give up their demands for a support price, which he said could mean the subsidy amount is all that needs to be decided. The government minister said farmers are asking for a subsidy of about $100 per bag, while the government has offered to bump the subsidy up to $72 a bag from the current $63.
Beyond the dollar-amount for subsidies, Mr. Tiberio also said he and other farmers would also like to see changes in how coffee subsidies are doled out. Colombia’s coffee industry and exports have long been tightly managed by the powerful Federation of Colombian Coffee Growers, or Fedecafe, a quasi governmental agency that many protesters say is corrupt.
“Right now all the government funds that go to the coffee sector are channeled first through Fedecafe and there’s a lot of bureaucracy and other problems there,” Mr. Tiberio said. “This needs to change.”
Fedecafe has denied any wrongdoing. It acknowledges coffee farmers are struggling, and says part of the problem is that Colombia’s currency, the peso, rose 10% against the dollar last year, which has further cut into coffee farmers’ profits.
February 20, 2013
BBC Podcast on Coffee Rust Epedemic
February 06, 2013
Coffee Falls to Lowest in Month on Brazil ’Monster’ Crop
Coffee futures in New York slumped to the lowest in a month on signs that supply will outweigh demand due to a record crop in Brazil, the world’s largest grower and exporter.
In the year that started Oct. 1, world coffee production is estimated at 144.5 million bags, a 7.3 percent increase from a year earlier, with most of the gains coming from a bumper crop in Brazil, according to the London-based International Coffee Organization. Brazil’s 2013 output may reach 50.2 million bags, even as trees enter the lower-yielding half of a two-year cycle, compared to the 2012 record of 50.8 million, the country’s Agriculture Ministry said.
“This Brazil crop is going to be a monster,” Joe Scaduto, a coffee broker at New York-based JPS Commodities LLC, said in a telephone interview.
Arabica-coffee for March delivery fell 1.2 percent to $1.4235 a pound at 11:18 a.m. on ICE Futures U.S. in New York, after touching $1.4185, the lowest since Dec. 31. Prices have fallen 35 percent from a year ago.
Also in New York, cocoa futures for March delivery slid 0.7 percent to $2,230 a metric ton, after a 2.5 percent gain yesterday.
February 06, 2013
ICO flags ‘serious implications’ of coffee disease
The International Coffee Organization nudged higher its estimate for world coffee output even as it cautioned over the potential for heavy losses, and “serious long-term implications”, caused by disease in Central America.
The intergovernmental group said that was “currently” estimating world coffee output in 2012-13 at 144.5m bags, up from an estimate of 144.06m tonnes last month, and representing a rise of 7.3% year on year.
And it identified a head start for 2013-14, in saying that “plentiful showers” in Brazilian coffee-growing regions last month “bode well” for the next harvest, which officials at the Conab crop bureau have pegged at 47m-50.2m bags,
That would be a record for what is an “off” year in Brazil’s cycle of higher and lower producing years, although the peaks and troughs in the top coffee-producing nation “seem to be converging”, said the ICO, with the downturn in 2013-14 seen at 4.4%.
The off year decade ago saw coffee output slump by 47%, with change in dynamics since then attributed largely to improved husbandry, in areas including pruning, irrigation and fertilizers.
However, this upbeat picture contrasted with the difficulties facing growers in Central America, where coffee leaf rust, caused by the roya fungus, which can cause severe defoliation and yield losses, had “now been reported in all major coffee-producing countries”.
“Authorities in Costa Rica have declared a state of emergency in order to tackle the spread of the fungus,” the ICO said.
“In Guatemala and El Salvador, there are reports that rust could have affected 40‐50% of all coffee plants… while Honduras has declared a phytosanitary emergency,” and outbreaks have been reported in Mexico too.
“This outbreak could have serious long‐term implications for the production of washed arabicas in Central America, with the region potentially loosing around 2.5m-3m bags of coffee,” the organisation said.
“However, it is too early to provide an exact breakdown.”
Central America, including Mexico, was responsible for 24% of arabica output in 2011-12, and had been expected to produce 22% of the world crop in 2012-13.
Roya fungus is known for its virulence – an outbreak in Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, in 1869 prompted the country to switch from growing coffee to planting tea - although resistant strains are now being developed, and planted in Colombia, although at the price of taking
Last week, the Organization of Central American Coffee Exporters, Orceca, forecast that coffee leaf rust will cut the Central American coffee harvest by some 20%.
Orceca estimated losses in Nicaragua at 600,000 quintals, equivalent to about 460,000 60 kilogramme bags.
For Guatemala, losses were pegged at 650 thousand quintals (about 500,000 bags), for El Salvador 400,000 quintals (307,000 bags) and Honduras 1.8m quintals (1.38m bags).
For Costa Rica, losses were estimated at 200,000 quintals (153,000 bags) and Panama 60,000 quintals (46,000 bags).