Sumatra robusta exports down 66%, despite tempting prices


Robusta coffee exports from Sumatra, Indonesia's main growing region, fell 66% in July, reflecting drought damage from last year's El Nino event.

But Indonesian supplies are still enjoying an unusual price advantage to Vietnamese robusta, where the backlog of stocks has been rapidly cleared.

Sumatran robusta exports for July were 12,350 tonnes, compared to 36,644 a year ago, government data shows.

Exports were up some 3,100 tonnes from last month, thanks to a seasonal uptick in production.

Production suffers

Robusta production across Indonesia, the world's third largest producer, has been hurt by last year's dry weather, and rain disruptions earlier this year also delayed the harvest.

According to the latest government data, exports from Indonesia in May were are 21,000 tonnes, well below the 5-year average of 34,000 tonnes.

The USDA has forecast Indonesian exports across 2016-17 down 18% year on year, with the worst of the effects seen in Sumatra.

Heavier Vietnamese exports

Exports from Vietnam, meanwhile, are running ahead of last year's pace.

The Vietnamese government forecast July exports at 130,000 tonnes, up 17% year on year.

But this is lower than market expectations, which pegged July exports at 145,000 to 160,000 tonnes.

The year-on-year rise in exports has less to do with production, than with accelerated farmer selling after a long period of hoarding, in response to low prices.

So far this season, Vietnamese exports are some 30% over the pace of last year, at 1.45m tonnes, according to the country's General Statistics Office said in a monthly report.

In fact, the draw down in Vietnamese stocks, as the Indonesian harvest picks up pace, has opened up an unusual premium in Vietnamese supplies.

In Indonesia, usually the more expensive origin, robusta is changing hands at about $1,885 a tonne, $87 a tonne cheaper than in Vietnam.

September robusta futures were down 0.4% in mid-day deals in London, at 1,841 a tonne.


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