Colombia's coffee exports will nudge higher to their largest
in 25 years next season, US officials said, even as they unveiled a relatively downbeat
output forecast - while seeing only a partial recovery in Indonesia's
US Department of Agriculture's Bogota bureau, in its first estimates
for 2017-18, forecast Colombia's coffee exports - of which the US is the top buyer - rising 50,000
tonnes to 13.19m tonnes.
Shipments at that level would be the highest since 1992-93, and
represent a 79% recovery from the low reached five years ago, when a replanting
programme with trees resistant to the devastating rust fungus prompted a temporary
"Colombian coffee exports have been expanding significantly
since 2013, paralleling the recovery in coffee production," the bureau said.
'Levels not seen
since the 1990s'
Indeed, the bureau forecast Colombia's coffee output also
showing a small improvement in 2017-18, of 100,000 bags, to set a 25-year high
of 14.6m bags.
"Colombia coffee production is at… levels not seen since the
early 1990s as a result of the highly successful replanting programme of coffee
rust resistant varieties and good weather conditions," the bureau said.
Nonetheless, the forecast is below estimates from some other
commentators, with Marex forecasting Colombia's coffee harvest next season at
14.8m bags, and Rabobank pegging it at 15.0m bags
Colombia's finance minister, Mauricio Cardenas, last week
estimated domestic output in calendar 2018 at at least 15m bags.
However, the USDA estimates factored in a levelling off in
the number of mature trees, at 3.50bn, next season, with the knock-on effects
of the replanting programme now largely worked through.
The number of bearing trees was estimated rising by 600m
The comments also come amid some concerns over the
production for the rest of 2016-17, which ends in September, thanks to rains early
in the year and more recently, as the so-called mitaca harvest accelerates.
Colombia's output in April fell 20% year on year.
Soft commodities analyst Judith Ganes-Chase said earlier this
week that "rains could mar production prospects and slow the harvest even
"It also could lead to vulnerability for disease under too
The USDA nonetheless raised by 500,000 bags, to 14.5m bags,
its forecast for Colombia's coffee output this season.
Separately, USDA staff in Jakarta pegged coffee output in
Indonesia – the fourth-ranked producing country, behind Brazil, Vietnam and
Colombia – at 10.9m bags in 2017-18, on an April-to-Mach basis.
That would represent an increase of 300,000 bags on last
season's weather-affected levels, but still below the record 12.1m-bag harvest
recorded in 2015-16.
"Industry contacts report that highland robusta production
is expected to be down following excessive rainfall during the October–November
flowering period," the officials said.
"However, lowland coffee production is expected to increase,
offsetting the highland declines."
'More aggressive than
The forecast compares with a Marex estimate of a 10.5m-bag
crop next season, while Rabobank sees production recovering to 11.6m bags.
The USDA staff forecast Indonesia's exports rising by
100,000 bags in 2017-18, having hit 7.20m bags last season, stronger than
"Exports are more aggressive than expected, with January
-February green bean exports 25% higher than the same period in 2016."
Indonesia is in the main a grower of robusta beans, supplies
of which have been squeezed by dryness damage to crops in Vietnam and Brazil.
Brazilian officials on Thursday upgraded their hopes for the
recovery in Brazilian robusta coffee output in 2017-18, following rains in Espirito
Santo, the country's top robusta-growing state.