Coffee Prices Close Moderately Lower On Demand Concerns

July arabica coffee (KCN23) on Thursday closed down -3.40 (-1.77%), and July ICE robusta coffee (RMN23) closed down -8 (-0.33%).

Coffee prices Thursday closed moderately lower.  Concerns that a slowdown in the U.S. economy will curb coffee demand undercut prices after Thursday’s economic news showed that the U.S. Q1 GDP rose less than expected.  Robusta coffee is also under pressure on the increase in inventories after ICE monitored robusta coffee inventories climbed to a 4-1/2 month high Thursday.

An excessive long position in robusta coffee futures could fuel long liquidation pressures after last Friday’s weekly Commitment of Traders (COT) data showed that funds boosted their net-long positions of robusta coffee futures by 2,537 in the week ending April 18 to a 14-month high of 34,939 long positions.

Last Wednesday, arabica posted a 6-1/2 month nearest-futures (KCK23) high on expectations for smaller global coffee supplies.  Arabica coffee supplies have tightened as ICE monitored arabica coffee inventories Thursday fell to a 4-1/2 month low of 687,652 bags.  Also, the Colombia Coffee Growers Federation reported on April 12 that Colombia Mar coffee exports fell -19% y/y to 906,000 bags.  Colombia is the world’s second-largest arabica bean producer.

Arabica coffee also has support due to excessive rain in Brazil, which may keep farmers out of fields and delay the coffee harvest.  Somar Meteorologia reported Monday that Brazil’s Minas Gerais region received 38.9 mm of rain in the week ended April 23, or 469% of the historical average.  Minas Gerais accounts for about 30% of Brazil’s arabica crop.

Robusta coffee has support from shrinking supplies.  Vietnam’s Q1 coffee exports fell -5% y/y to 552,613 MT.  Vietnam is the world’s largest producer of robusta beans.  Robusta prices are also being underpinned by concern that heavy rain will reduce coffee yields in Indonesia, the world’s third-biggest robusta producer.  In addition, global demand for robusta has increased as roasters and consumers seek cheaper coffee options to cope with high inflation.

On April 5, the International Coffee Organization (ICO) reported global coffee exports during Oct-Feb fell -8.7% y/y to 48.66 mln bags.  Also, Cecafe reported last Wednesday that  Brazil’s Mar green coffee exports dropped -19% y/y to 2.78 mln bags.  By contrast, Honduran Mar coffee exports rose +14% y/y to 1.097 million bags.  Honduras is Central America’s biggest exporter of arabica beans.

Coffee prices also have support as the odds of an El Nino weather event increased, which could likely undercut global coffee production.  The U.S. Climate Prediction Center on April 13 raised the likelihood of an El Nino weather pattern emerging between August and October to 74% from 61% a month ago.  If that El Nino pattern occurs, it could bring heavy rains to Brazil and drought to India, negatively impacting coffee crop production.

Robusta has support on global supply concerns after coffee trader Volcafe forecasted the global 2023/24 robusta coffee market would see a record deficit of 5.6 mln bags.  In addition, the Association of Indonesian Coffee Exporters and Industries said that Indonesia would see its 2023 coffee production fall -20% y/y to 9.6 mln bags due to damage from excessive rainfall across its growing regions.

On the bearish side, the Green Coffee Association reported last Monday that U.S. Mar green coffee inventories rose +3.4% y/y to 6,016,272 bags.  Also, Safras last Monday projected Brazil’s coffee crop this year would increase +13% y/y to 66.65 mln bags and that Brazil’s 2023/24 coffee exports will climb by +21% y/y, given a projected surplus of 45 mln bags.

The International Coffee Organization (ICO) projects the global 2022/23 coffee market deficit will widen to -7.3 mln bags from a -7.1 mln bag deficit in 2021/22.  ICO projects that 2022/23 global coffee production will increase +1.7% y/y to 171.27 mln bags, and 2022/23 global coffee consumption will increase +1.7% y/y to 178.53 mln bags.

The USDA, in its bi-annual report released on December 23, cut its global 2022/23 coffee production estimate by -1.3% to 172.8 mln bags from a June estimate of 175.0 mln bags.  In addition, the USDA cut its 2022/23 global coffee ending stocks estimate by -1.7% to 34.1 mln bags from a June estimate of 34.7 mln bags.  Meanwhile, the USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) on November 22 cut its Brazil 2022/23 coffee production forecast by -2.6% to 62.6 mln bags from a prior estimate of 64.3 mln bags.  This year was supposed to be the higher-yielding year of Brazil’s biennial coffee crop, but coffee output this year was slashed by drought.

Source: Rich Asplund (Barchart)

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