Coffee prices soar to record high as supply shrinks

By Thi Ha   March 28, 2024 | 06:22 pm PT
Coffee prices soar to record high as supply shrinks
Farmers harvesting coffee in the Central Highlands. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Coffee prices surged 11.3% to a historic high of VND98,100 (US$3.95) per kilogram on Wednesday as inventories dwindle and production is forecast to decline.

The price represented a 110% increase from a year ago.

On online coffee business forums, many farmers and traders have expressed surprise at the unprecedented prices, which were around VND70,800 at the beginning of the year.

Prices also rose in the global market, with the May robusta LRCc2 futures contract rising to an all-time high of $5,999 per ton and the May Arabica KCc1 to $4,186.5.

The sharp increase in prices is due to a decline in production and record low levels of inventories, according to Nguyen Hai Nam, chairman of the Vietnam Coffee Cocoa Association.

Droughts in coffee growing countries caused by climate change and the El Nino phenomenon have caused a decline in global production, he said.

His association expects coffee harvests to be 10% lower this year since farmers have shifted to other crops due to low prices in recent years.

Shipping disruptions and freight hikes due to the Red Sea tensions also contribute to higher global prices, he added.

The skyrocketing prices have heavily impacted traders.

Nguyen Loan, a coffee merchant in Dak Lak Province, said she is cutting back on purchases due to the record prices, pointing out that even large traders are hesitant to stock up on coffee.

"I previously agreed to sell 1,000 tons [of coffee] to an exporter at VND70,000 per kilogram. At the current prices, I cannot procure enough stock to deliver."

Phan Minh Thong, chairman of agricultural products exporter Phuc Sinh Group, said coffee merchants are demanding as much as VND99,000 per kilogram.

The company had to make some small purchases and bear the losses to maintain its operations.

"The company has faced huge losses recently. We will incur bigger losses if we buy more."

According to traders, importers are now buying coffee from India and Brazil instead of Vietnam because of its high prices.

With Brazil set to harvest its coffee crop in April, prices might soon cool down in the global market.

In the first two months of the year Vietnam exported 438,000 tons of coffee for $1.4 billion, according to data from the General Department of Customs.

They represented increases of 28% and 85% year-on-year.

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