Brazil’s Crop to Tip Coffee Market Into Shortage, Volcafe Says
2014-01-06 11:26:33.875 GMT
By Isis Almeida
Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- The global coffee market will face a
shortage for the first time in three years in 2014-15 as the
crop in Brazil, the world’s largest producer, will fall short of
its potential, according to Volcafe Ltd.
Bean supplies will probably be about 5 million bags lower
than consumption in the 2014-15 season, the coffee unit of
commodities trader ED&F Man Holdings Ltd. said in a report e-
mailed today. In November, the trader estimated a global surplus
of 5.3 million bags. A bag of coffee weighs 132 pounds.
Growers in Brazil will gather 51 million bags in the
2014-15 crop, said Winterthur, Switzerland-based Volcafe. That’s
below production potential of 60 million bags and compares with
57.2 million bags in 2013-14 and 56.8 million bags a year
earlier, data from the trader showed.
“With a 51 million-bag Brazil crop figure, our 2014-15
statistical balance becomes a deficit of around 5 million bags,
coming after two years of statistical surplus in 2012-13 and
2013-14,” Volcafe said in the report.
Arabica coffee futures traded in New York fell 23 percent
last year, a third annual decline and the longest slump since
1993 as global bean production outpaced demand. In November,
Volcafe forecast excess supplies of 6 million bags for 2013-14
and 7.4 million bags for the previous year. In 2011-12, the
trader estimated a shortage of 200,000 bags.
Brazil’s arabica production will come in at 35 million bags
in 2014-15 and robusta output at 16 million bags, according to
Volcafe. That compares with 40.7 million bags and 16.5 million
bags respectively in 2013-14, data from the trader released in
November showed. The arabica crop will be smaller due to hard
pruning and tree exhaustion, Volcafe said.
“We have observed a higher-than-expected rate of flower
abortion,” Volcafe said. “This disappointing fixation of
flowers, in particular in the south of Minas, is due to high
productive stress from two large crops in a row, despite
textbook weather.” Flowers turn into cherries containing beans.
Hard pruning or skeletonizing of coffee trees will also cut
Brazil’s arabica output, Volcafe said. This pruning technique
“completely eradicates costs” for producers during the next
low-yielding crop and provides a bumper harvest in two years’
time, the trader said. Brazil’s arabica trees will enter the
higher-yielding half of a two-year cycle in 2014-15 and a lower-
yielding part will follow a year later.
“This year we observed rates of ‘esqueletamento’ of up to
17 percent in the main arabica areas, much higher than normal,”
Volcafe said, using the Portuguese word for skeletonizing.
“This hard pruning activity is still ongoing, as we observed
preparations for more of this cost-saving technique.”
Arabica coffee is grown mainly in Latin America and favored
for specialty drinks such as those made by Starbucks Corp. The
robusta variety is grown mainly in Asia and parts of Africa and
is used to make instant coffee and espresso. While the 2014-15
season starts in Brazil in July, it begins in October in most
other producing countries.