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COVID-19 Origin Updates

COVID-19 measures such as social distancing and restrictions on movement are causing problems with picking coffee and moving it from farm to mill and mill to port. However, as of the 1st of June, the majority of coffee origins are able to pick, process, and ship coffee. Please see our market reports for more updates.

Last Updated: 9.34 am, 09/04/2020

General shipping updates
It was reported on the 6th that dozens of sailings have been blanked due to the expected (and realised) extreme downturn in demand. Alternate routings have been in place, though it is expected that there will be affects felt at various ports due to the placings of containers and vessels.

India has ordered demurrage and other charges be waived for now for delays etc until 14th April

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) called on governments to designate professional seafarers and marine personnel as “key workers” providing an essential service. The IMO said professional seafarers should be granted special travel exemptions in order to allow crews to be changed and marine personnel to be repatriated.

Congestion in terminals is expected for April and May due to capacity issues related to cargo owners failing to collect imports. Non-essential items are not being moved or are being delayed where possible, and carriers are offering options to work with solutions.

No substantive issues have yet appeared in Brazil, there are some issues with export documents and internal logistics. Trucking is still running, and although there have been reports that reduced numbers of eating and rest stops were available for drivers, and may have an impact, nearly 15% more trucks have been seen at the ports than the same period last year. The Port of Santos is operating under normal conditions, though the Federal Court has caused the increase the intensity of inspections and adoption of preventative measures against Coronavirus. This has been brought by city hall and dockworkers themselves.

As far as the upcoming harvest goes, most solutions are touted as the mechanisation of the industry and only employing local labour to reduce risk of introduction and spread.

Nationwide curfew has been extended by the President for two more weeks, taking it from finishing on the 13th of April to nearly the end of the month. Coffee is still being received, milled and shipped, though with additional safety measures implemented. At Racafe, one of our suppliers this has taken the form of providing PPE for the most at risk workers, as well as providing groceries, and private transportation to and from work.

Internal logistics are facing similar situations to Brazil – trucking is functioning, but with reduced facilities for drivers on the normal routes, causing some disruption. Again our supplier has stepped up here to provide meals before the drivers head off, and insisting their employer is providing the correct PPE for the journey. However, some minor disruptions are still occurring.

On the whole, as coffee falls within the excepted products category, from labor through to shipping and logistic, things are still working. There is some disruption for harvesting, dry milling, sampling and with export documentation. Shipping lines are operating but with some logistical alterations.

A state of emergency has been declared. Ethiopian airlines have suspended flights and visitors are subject to a 14-day quarantine on arrival. Schools are closed, public gatherings are banned, and most employees have been asked to work from home. Borders are closed except to incoming freight transporting essential goods. In general, things are still moving.


Government curfew on movement from 4pm to 4am. Ports working until 2pm to allow people to be home by 4, as are dry mills. Some shipping lines experiencing capacity problems, causing some congestion, but otherwise working.

Total government curfew with some exceptions being made and permits issued and banks running 2 days per week. Bureaucracy slowing this down somewhat. Some companies and dry mills are open and some sampling activity is going ahead, with some restrictions. Some backlogs in shipping, some lines with shortages of containers and running 2 day week. Inland transportation difficult.

Lockdown has been implemented until 14th April. This means all activities related to coffee have come to a complete halt with immediate effect. Banks are working with reduced staff so document processing is slower and courier services are not operational. This will impact pre-shipment sampling and original document dispatches. Mangalore Port container yards are closed.

Heavy government restrictions currently in place. National State of Emergency declared and a government curfew is in place until the end of April. This is causing issues with documentation as administration abilities are reduced, and producers are now unable to get the coffee off their farms or sample. Producers will need physical cash, in dollars. Ports are still operational, though coffee not considered an essential product so not moving.

Rest of World

Costa Rica 
Vehicle restrictions between the hours of 10pm and 5am. Again, things are working but people are taking measures to prepare. 
Most of our suppliers mill their own coffee so operations undisturbed for that part. Port is working okay, though the disruption in the container supply chain caused by delayed and cancelled shutdowns across the world may impact here as well. Orders currently able to be advanced if needed to guarantee supply. 

El Salvador
They are in a period of 30 days quarantine, though certain companies have been allowed to continue their business: food, beverage, health, pharmaceuticals and transportation among the main. The decree from the government states that all import and export activities will not be stopped, and our suppliers have been granted permits to continue operating farms, mill and exporting activities. Shipping lines are lacking equipment.

Generally everything seems to be working for now. 32 of 34 provinces have confirmed cases of Covid-19

No planes allowed to land though they are allowed to takeoff, which is seeing some delays/disruption to airfreight.

Mombasa still open and shipping in full flow.

is continuing though Covid19 making itself known. Social distancing was embraced very quickly with fewer pedestrians around and greater distances respected.  

Government offices partially closed. Largely independent businesses taking action. Routes being reduced so starting to slow, and some routes becoming congested. 

No issues so far but expected soon. People are preparing to work from home or have some forms of disruption, though government have not issued adviceShipping lines lacking equipment.

Papua New Guinea
Goes in to lockdown at 4pm every day. However, ports operational and to date no issues expected.  

There are p
roactive policies in place and swift intervention from the government means all is under control. As such, ports are moving as expected.

Fairtrade certified coffee
FLOCERT have amended physical audits for traders to remote audits for anything due up to 30 June 2020. For producers, these anything scheduled up to 22nd April is postponed. There will be no new producer certifications until physical audits can be recommenced.   

More info: https://www.flocert.net/coronavirus-related-changes-in-operations/ 

Food Standards Authority has issue the following guidance for food businesses on Covid –19