Coffee Prices Jump As Brazil’s Coffee Farmers Hoard Supplies

May arabica coffee (KCK23) on Wednesday closed up +3.50 (+1.84), and May ICE robusta coffee (RMK23) closed up +72 (+3.38%).

Coffee prices Wednesday rallied to 4-1/4 month highs on a lack of coffee for sale in the cash market after reports that Brazilian coffee farmers are withholding supplies for higher prices due to increased growing costs, including fertilizers.

Signs of tighter coffee inventories are also pushing prices higher.  ICE arabica coffee inventories fell to a 7-week low of 814,966 bags Wednesday.  Also, last Wednesday, the Green Coffee Association reported U.S. Jan green coffee inventories fell -1.8% m/m to 6.265 mln bags.  Finally, robusta coffee inventories are shrinking as ICE-monitored robusta coffee inventories last Wednesday fell to 5,933 lots, the lowest since contract rules changed in 2016.

Smaller global coffee exports are bullish for coffee prices after the International Coffee Organization (ICO) reported on February 2 that Oct-Dec global coffee exports have fallen -2.8% y/y to 30.27 mln bags.  Cecafe reported on February 9 that Brazil Jan green coffee exports fell -18.5% y/y to 2.52 mln bags.  Coffee exports from Guatemala, the second-largest coffee producer in Central America, fell -8% y/y in January to 172,439 bags.  Coffee exports from Colombia, the world’s second-largest producer of arabica coffee beans, fell -19% y/y to 835,000 in January.  Vietnam Jan coffee exports sank -27.7% y/y to 142,544 MT.

Coffee prices have support as recent heavy rain in Minas Gerais, Brazil’s largest arabica growing region, has kept farmers out of fields and delayed the application of fertilizers and pesticides.  The heavy rain has also increased coffee rust in some trees and may also lower coffee yields.  Somar Meteorologia reported last Monday that Brazil’s Minas Gerais region received 63.4 mm of rain in the week ended February 12, or 126% of the historical average.  Minas Gerais accounts for about 30% of Brazil’s arabica crop.

Robusta has support after coffee trader Volcafe forecasted that the global 2023/24 robusta coffee market would see a record deficit of 5.6 mln bags as Indonesia, the world’s third-largest robusta producer is expected to see its 2023/24 robusta coffee production fall to 9.1 mln bags, the smallest robusta crop in 10 years due to damage from excessive rainfall across its growing regions.

A bearish factor for arabica coffee is the recovery in ICE arabica coffee inventories.  Since falling to a 23-year low of 382,695 bags on November 3, ICE arabica coffee inventories rose to a 7-1/4 month high of 891,933 bags on February 8.

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.  By contrast, Conab on January 19 forecasted the 2022/23 Brazil arabica crop would increase +14.4% to 37.4 mln bags.

Source: Rich Asplund (Barchart)

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