Prices of so-called "other mild" arabica coffee, produced in
the main in Central America, extended their discount to Colombian mild beans to
the highest in years, despite worries over a fresh disease outbreak in
The price of other mild beans - grown mainly in the likes of
Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras, but also in southern Africa and some Caribbean
islands – extended their recent decline to hit 144.80 cents a pound on Wednesday,
according to the International Coffee Organization.
The drop expanded to 3.16 cents a pound their discount to
mild arabica beans produced in Colombia which only last month began to regain
their premium after a three-year period when the dent to Central American
supplies from the outbreak of the coffee rust, or roya, fungus gave values of
other milds the upper hand.
In March last year, Colombian milds fell to a discount of
more than 12 cents a pound.
"While Colombia was successfully increasing its output
through replanting programmes, producers of other milds… were negatively
affected by the outbreak of coffee leaf rust," the ICO said.
"This led to lower supplies of other milds,
resulting in higher prices."
However, with output in much of Central
America, as well as Peru, now on the rise, the extra supplies have lost the
variety its premium.
Indeed, exports of other mild arabica coffee
"in the period May 2016 to April 2017 grew by 9.4% compared to the previous
year, while the previously strong growth in exports of Colombian milds levelled
off", the ICO noted.
'Harvest is at risk'
Still, the comments come amid fresh
worries over the rust, or roya, fungus, which can devastate crops, leading to tree
defoliation and potentially death.
"Reports from Honduras indicate the
possibility of a new coffee leaf rust outbreak," the ICO noted.
IHCafe, the coffee institute for Honduras,
Central America's top coffee grower and exporter, confirmed in April that rust
had been found on one variety, Lempira, which has been planted for years as a type
resistant to roya.
"The 2017-18 harvest is at risk because
of rust," US Department of Agriculture staff in Honduras said in a briefing
drawn up ahead of the latest edition of a twice-yearly USDA coffee report, due
El Nino help
The continuing decline in the price of
other milds looks a sign that traders are "relaxed" over the danger posed by the
"There doesn't seem to be evidence of any
serious damage," the trader said, also noting that, with it being a potential
El Nino year, Honduran plantations might see relatively dry conditions
unfavourable for the spread of the fungus.
The USDA officials in Honduras forecast a
rise in Honduran coffee output in 2017-18 to a record 6.52m bags, even taking "into
account the risk of coffee leaf rust's effect on this harvest", with the extra
output a reflection of increasing plantation area.