funds are accused of pushing agricultural commodity prices unduly high, so inflating
consumers' bills above levels that critics feel is justified.
But in Brazil, speculators
are being blamed for dragging arabica coffee futures below fair value, punishing
unfairly producers of the bean.
Officials from Brazil's top farming authorities taken up the cause of the Conselho Nacional do Café producers' group, which fingered speculators for the extent of a drop in arabica prices to two-year lows below 140 cents a pound on New York's futures market.
In May last year, New
York's front contract hit 306.25 cents a pound, just over 10 cents from a
The sharp price
fall is "purely speculative", said Silvio Porto, director of farm policy and
information at Conab, the official crop bureau.
"The drop in prices
is not justified, as they fell because of claims that there is plenty of coffee
in Brazil," ideas which were not supported by Conab data.
50.8m bags of coffee this year, Conab said this week, higher than demand of
some 18m bags from export markets and 28m bags domestically, but still leaving
carryover inventories low, the bureau said.
Furthermore, 2013 will
in Brazil be "off" period in the country's cycle of alternate higher and lower producing
'Confusion of data'
Fontelles, agriculture minister, said that the government was "concerned when there
is speculation, and the numbers show that there is no excess of beans.
"We are still
working on there being a smaller crop next year than in the current year."
The comments follow
allegations by the Conselho Nacional do Café that buyers have been releasing
exaggerated estimates for Brazil's coffee production, with the aim of
attacked as "absurd" a forecast by coffee exporter Terra Forte last week that
Brazil's coffee harvest would hit 53.4m bags in 2013-14.
Mr Fontelles called
for an "end the confusion of data" on Brazilian coffee output, with reports in
Brazil saying that government officials had been concerned over Terra Forte's
forecast, and a US Department of Agriculture estimate that output reached 55.9m
bags this year -5m bags more than Conab's estimate.