The current price of coffee futures on the commodities market has, as of writing this, dipped just below the $.91 mark, bottoming out thus far today at 90.88 cents. It is sadly no longer news when the C price hits a new low; the only number that seems to be increasing is just exactly how long it is has been since the price of coffee was this low. Currently, that number sits at 13 years.
In response to this, some Brazilian farmers are refusing to sell their harvest until there is what Bloomberg calls a “price miracle.”
As the article notes, a record crop from the past season has helped usher in the historically low prices, and with a similar yield expected this year, hedge funds—the people who obviously should be in charge of making coffee valuations—are “wagering on further declines.” With the threat of even lower prices looming, Nelson Salvaterra of Rio de Janeiro’s Coffee New Selection tells Bloomberg that many farmers are “hoarding their beans” in hopes of a “miraculous” recovery in the C price.
The numbers back up Salvaterra’s claim. In March, green coffee exports dropped by 20%, to 2.6 million bags—roughly 156 million kilos or 343.2 million pounds—where it is expected to remain in April. The amount that was shipped, according to Salvaterra was only to “[cover] previously agreed upon contracts.”
In the short term, withholding coffee is “doing more harm than good.” Though the prices have increased due to the artificial shortage, it is setting the price higher for Brazilian coffee than that of other countries, further slowing the export rate. But for the farmers, the hope is that they can hold off on selling their crop until the price rebounds. But for this gambit to pay off, the C price of coffee will have to do something it hasn’t reliably done in a long time: it will have to increase.
Let's hope their gamble pays off.
Top image © Adobe Stock/Paulo Vilela