Stark divide in Peru, Mexico coffee exports 'down to rust battles'

Peru's surge in exports, which saw it overtake the likes of Ethiopia and Guatemala in the league of major shippers, looks a sign of the country's success in fighting coffee rust – contrasting with Mexico's continued travails.
The International Coffee Organization - underlining that 2015-16 brought a second successive year of decline in world coffee exports, this time by 0.7% to 111.8m bags – highlighted that Peru had bucked the trend.
The South American country saw its exports soar 43% to 3.52m bags in the marketing year, which ended in September, lifting it to fourth in the league of arabica-growing nations, behind only Brazil, Colombia and Honduras.
"The significant increase" in shipments suggests that Peruvian output is "starting to recover from the coffee leaf rust outbreak which so affected the last two crops", the ICO said.
Rising demand
Some 40% of coffee area in Peru, which prides itself as a particularly large producer of organic beans, was infected by the outbreak of rust, a fungus which causes notable yield loss, and can kill trees.
The rise in exports also comes against a backdrop of increasing domestic demand for coffee, with Peruvians doubling their per capita consumption over the past five years ago, according to the US Department of Agriculture, although, at 600g, the figure remains relatively low.
Colombians consume some 2kg apiece of coffee a year, and Brazilians more than 4kg, according to the USDA.
Contrasting fortunes
By contrast, a slide of 10.0% to 2.21m bags in exports from Mexico indicates that there "rust continues to be an issue", the ICO said.
Mexico has seen its coffee output slump by more than one-third to 2.8m bags last season, according to ICO data.
The country's contrasting fortunes means that Peru – which in 2014-15 shipped a near-identical amount of coffee as Mexico, at a little under 2.5m bags – exported 60% more last season.
Peru now ranks seventh among coffee exporters overall, including robusta nations, having overtaken Ethiopia, Guatemala and Uganda, while Mexico ranks 10th.
Arabica vs robusta
The ICO highlighted that the fall in world coffee shipments in 2015-16 was led by a 6.9% drop to 40.8m bags in robusta volumes, which more than offset a rise in arabica exports.
Within the arabica segment, the "other milds" category proved particularly popular, seeing growth of 5.5%, reflecting the increase in Peruvian volumes.
Exports of Brazilian natural beans rose by 2.6%, with those of Colombian milds gaining 1.1%, slowed late in the season by a truckers' strike in the South American country.

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