Coffee Insiders: Is 20% less output a “scary number”?

Andres Agredo, May 07, 2017

20% was the reduction of Colombian coffee production in April, compared to the same month last year. Such a number may sound “scary” for coffee traders who stick to the highly optimistic expectations given by the “Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC)”, which expects between 14.5 and 15 million caffeinated bags to be produced in 2017 in Colombia.

But for those who have their feet on the ground, it’s not such a surprise. In late January and early February, we warned in Twitter (@CafeCTA) and Linkedin (Cafe Trading Advisors) that excess of rains in our coffee belt delayed flowering of the coffee trees, putting on risk the main crop of 2017:

“There are still lots of rains in here”, said yesterday Cesar Osorio, our Crop Analyst and Licensed Q-Grader in the Colombian Coffee Belt. “I should be harvesting around 60-100 pounds of coffee per lot per week by these days, but I’m actually getting just 20-24 pounds. Although current quality of beans is quite high, the quantity is very, very low. By this season, I use to have harvested about 30%-40% of the year crop, but this year I’ve harvested just 10%! Delayed flowering and unseasonal rains are delaying the ripening process of the beans. I think we are going to be in January and February 2018 still picking coffee that should have been harvested in 2017. That’s why I believe that FNC’s production expectations for 2017 will not be fulfilled”, he said.

And another rare fact that our coffee growers are seeing at this “Traviesa or Mitaca” crop, is that trees currently have both flowers and ripe red coffee fruit, something that is not only very unusual but is also spurring the coffee berry borer, which could have a devastating effect if another El Niño occurs later this year.

Coffee Trees

Recent photos of coffee trees from our partners in Neira, Caldas, Colombia

Coffee Tree

Recent photos of coffee trees from our partners in Neira, Caldas, Colombia

Coffee Tree

Recent photos of coffee trees from our partners in Neira, Caldas, Colombia

And while I’m speaking with Cesar, a coffee picker has knocked on his door seeking work… an additional indicator that there is not much coffee by these days.

Let’s remember that the labour shortage was an important concern in Oct/Nov 2016, due to the strong production of last year, something that stressed trees and another reason that can explain the low amount of the best coffee of the world by this “Mitaca” crop.

We must have an eye on further developments in Colombia, because what happens in here will influence “New York Coffee C” prices, definitely.

Cafe Trading Advisors / Commodity Trading Advisor, NFA Member.

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