It’s been an interesting month in coffee with rain forecasts in Brazil playing a significant role, causing fluctuations in coffee prices. Short-term concerns over rain boosted prices temporarily. In the ever-evolving world of coffee, staying informed about the dynamics of various coffee-producing regions is paramount. From Robusta prices soaring in Vietnam to the reforms reshaping Kenya’s coffee exchange, and the climatic influences on Brazil’s coffee outlook, we delve into the latest updates in this month’s Origin Focus.
Coffee Origin Focus
September 2023 saw internal Vietnam robusta prices peak at 68,000 VND/kg. This represents a 76% rise since the beginning of 2023. The year to date has seen an average export price of just over $3,000/mt. This figure is up 30% YOY from 2022.
The primary factor for this rally is the physical shortage in the market. Vu Duc Con, deputy director of the Dak Lak Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, confirmed that the harvest season has yet to arrive while stocks from the previous season have mostly been sold. This sentiment is exacerbated by The Vietnam Coffee Cocoa Association’s forecast for coffee yields to drop by 10-15% for the fresh crop due to high heat.
Historically high robusta markets in 2023 have compounded these pricing highs. The last few months have seen coffee buyers in the unprecedented scenario of Brazil Santos Arabica and Vietnam Robusta flirting with parity.
Sentiment in Vietnam is that internal prices will fall in the next few months as fresh crop coffee reaches the market. Guus, Jamie and Thierry from the DRW team are heading to Vietnam in December 2023 to find out more… stay tuned.
Coffee in Kenya is primarily sold through the Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE). Managed by the Exchange Committee and regulated by the Kenyan Agriculture, Food & Fisheries Authority, the exchange plays a fundamental role in Kenyan coffee exports. Following recent reforms at the NCE, under the stewardship of Rigathi Gachagua, volumes and prices of coffee sold through the exchange have plummeted.
According to data published by the NCE, auction volumes in August dropped by > 95% to 192 tonnes from 4,380 tonnes at the same time last year. Equally, the average price for a 50kg bag of coffee beans fell by 31% to Sh183.41 from Sh266.32 previously. This follows an equally devastating July.
Producers and millers in Kenya report that the core reason for this drastic decline is their inability to secure the government issued licenses to sell coffee to the exchange. Historical licenses expired at the end of June, in line with the reform. Lack of sellers have caused international buyers to stay away from the market, hence reducing demand. The impasse in the exchange has also led to no coffee being certified in the current licensing cycle that began in July. This will lead global certified buyers such as Starbucks to look elsewhere.
Despite the data, the NCE deny that any licenses were suspended. The chaiman, Pete Gikonyo, stated “I am not aware of the suspension of any licences… I would encourage brokers to comply and make applications for licences with their respective regulators,” The coffee stakeholders have now called for the government to hand them interim licenses to trade as the government continues to carry out reforms.
Since our last Origin Focus on 06/09, the C market has experienced yet another volatile month driven by weather fundamentals in Brazil. Check out our September market report here for more details.
Numerous commentators are reporting that forecasts for wet weather in Brazil are starting to ease dryness concerns. INMET (Brazil’s Institute of Meteorology) points out that October should be a month of above average rain for most coffee areas, with potential wet weather extending through to the end of 2023.
If these commentators are correct, the outlook for the 24/25 Brazil harvest is strong.