Colombia’s rebound in coffee saw a “surprise” reversal as exports fell at their fastest rate in three years, in a decline attributed in part to a truckers’ strike.
The country’s coffee production last month fell 3.4% year on year to 800,000 bags, the lowest in 19 months, Fedecafe, the Columbian coffee growers’ federation, said.
Exports dropped 16.8% to 772,000 bags, the biggest rate of decline since March 2012.
The reversal contrasts with a marked recovery in Colombian coffee output and exports from lows reached around 2011-12, as a programme of replanting with trees resistant to the roya fungus, which causes coffee rust, took many plantations offline.
Indeed, the March reversal in Columbia, the world’s second largest arabica producer, was termed a “surprise” by Carlos Mera, senior analyst at Rabobank.
Another European commodity analyst also downplayed the importance of the March data, saying that “one month doesn’t make a summer”.
Export setbacks, down to a truckers’ strike, rather than any problems in the coffee industry itself, were seen as potentially behind the reversal, having a knock-on effect of the assessment of bean output as well as shipments.
“My view is that this [production] figure was very influenced by the low exports,” Mr Mera told Agrimoney.com.
Transport in Columbia has been hit by a trucker’s strike, which started in the end of February.
The strike, over government regulation of the transport industry, saw truckers blocking roads with slow moving convoys, sent domestic food prices at least 10% higher, and massively reduced road traffic.
The strike has now been resolved after talks with the government.