ICO trims forecast for rise in world coffee output

World coffee output appears to be on for a "significant" increase despite falling a little short of initial hopes, the International Coffee Organization said, estimating declines in only two major producing countries.

The intergovernmental group, in its first detailed estimates for the world coffee harvest in 2012-13, pegged it at a 146.0m bags, short of an outline forecast of "around 147m bags" made last month.

Nonetheless, "early indications are that world coffee production will increase significantly", by 8.4% year on year at current estimates, the organisation said.

While the ICO has failed yet to release an estimate for 2012 coffee consumption, the downgraded forecast still appears in line with the expectations of many observers of a return to a world coffee production surplus.

Consumption, which "remains resilient", was 139.0m bags last year.

Leading producers

The increased output reflects a 16.1% rise to 50.5m bags in output in Brazil, the top producing country, enjoying an "on" season in its two-year cycle of higher and lower harvests.

This total comprises nearly 40m bags of arabica beans, and 12.5m bags of robusta.

However, Colombia, the second-ranked arabica producer, will enjoy even stronger growth, of 17.7% to 9.0m bags, after a succession of seasons where output has been held back by poor weather and the knock-on effect of a replanting programme.

And output in Indonesia, a major robusta producer, will rise by 35% to 11.7m bags, recovering from a "weather-affected crop" last season, with "early signs" that Uganda's coffee crop will recovered from last season's levels, which were depressed by low rainfall to 2.8m bags,

Disease threat

Indeed, among major producing countries, only Honduras, with a 9.6% drop to 5.4m bags in its harvest, and Vietnam, with an 8.6% fall to 22.0m bags, are on for a smaller crop, on ICO forecasts.

Both countries enjoyed bumper harvests in 2011-12.

However, harvests Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala "could yet be curtailed by the spread of coffee leaf rust, which is affecting several countries in Central America", the ICO said.

Arabica coffee for March stood 1.8% at 149.65 cents a pound in New York in late deals, while London arabica beans for March were 0.2% higher at $1,884 a tonne.

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