Coffee growers in Central America had the dual consolation
of a downgrade to the estimate for their losses to the roya fungus, and finding
that their crop has become the most expensive of the major grades too.
Promecafe, the Central American coffee organisation, has cut
to 1.76m bags its forecast for the region's losses in 2013-14 to the fungus
which causes coffee rust, the International Coffee Organization said.
That represents a decline of 135,000 bags on losses of 1.89m
bags estimates for 2012-13.
Promecafe, which was created in 1979 to tackle disease
threats to coffee output, in June last year had forecast last season's losses
at 2.7m bags, and said that the 2013-14 impact could be considerably higher.
Central America produced 15.8m bags of coffee in 2011-12,
the last season before rust took hold.
The ICO also revealed that the beans produced in Central
America, classified as "other milds", had become the most expensive of the
major grades, overtaking values of Colombian milds for the first time in nearly
From a discount of some 13 cents a pound in February last
year, other milds have taken a premium which averaged 1.47 cents a pound last
month, a factor reflecting the differing production fortunes of Colombia, where
trees from a replanting programme are maturing, and Central America.
And the price reversal, driven by a 31% jump to 173.64 cents
a pound in the average price of other milds last month, is expected to stay,
despite being historically unusual.
"Production in Colombia is expected to increase further going
forward," ICO economist Thomas Copple told Agrimoney.com.
"For Central America, it looks like production is going to
stay low for a while."
Too much rain, too
The ICO remained downbeat over prospects for world output in
2013-14 despite Colombia's recovery and the lowered estimate for Central
America's setback, highlighting the impact of downpours in Mexico as well as
drought in Brazil.
Amecafe, Mexico's national coffee association, had signalled
that output "might be significantly lower than 2012-13, as heavy rains
exacerbate the spread of coffee leaf rust", the ICO said.
On Brazil, the organisation highlighted that in the south
west of Brazil, the top producing state, the rainfall deficit in January and
February approached 500mm, "and it is considered unlikely that there has been
any comparably severe event since at least 1950".
The ICO restated a forecast that global 2014-15 coffee
production "is now likely heading towards a deficit compared to demand".