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In a Global Coffee Glut, Top Brazil Grower Runs Out of Beans

Fabiana Batista

(Bloomberg) -- Brazil’s biggest grower and shipper of arabica coffee says it has run out of beans for new orders, countering the steady drumbeat of ample supply that has sent prices to 13-year lows.

“Funds are overselling coffee in New York while in the physical market there’s no more supplies and demand has been strong,” Lucio Dias, commercial director at Minas Gerais-based cooperative Cooxupe, said by telephone. “We don’t know where the world will get coffee in the next six months.”

Initially, Cooxupe calculated it would receive 5.7 million bags of arabica coffee -- the type favored by Starbucks Corp. -- this year but only 4.9 million bags have arrived so far. About 65% of that was already sold and farmers typically hold on to 20%. Despite record Brazilian shipments, global inventories are falling, Dias said.

Others in the industry don’t share his supply-squeeze concerns.

Futures in New York have slumped almost 40% from a September 2016 peak amid record Brazilian crops. In the first nine months of this year, Brazil shipped a 27.4 million tons of green coffee, 30% more than a year ago, export group CeCafe said on Oct. 9. Money managers have increased their bearish bets to the highest in 21 weeks, Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released Friday show.

At warehouses operated by Dinamo in Minas Gerais, stocks are still high.

“The inventories from the previous crop were big so that the volume in warehouses is still high even amid this fast pace of exports,” Luiz Alberto Azevedo Levy Jr., superintendent director at Dinamo, who is also a farmer, said by telephone.

Still, he said that if the pace of shipments continues strong, there may be a more significant depletion in inventories in the second quarter of next year before the new harvest.

Brazil’s production missed expectations this year after adverse weather in the first quarter hurt bean development while exports were strong just as the current crop entered into the lower-yielding half of a biennial cycle. In addition, depressed prices and lower interest rates in Brazil have encouraged farmers to hold beans.

“In our view, though, it’s just perception,” Carlos Alberto Fernandes Santana, director at Empresa Interagricola SA, one of the world’s largest coffee exporters, said by telephone. “The market has enough to meet demand until next year’s crop.”

(Updates witgh CFTC data in fifth paragraph)

To contact the reporter on this story: Fabiana Batista in Sao Paulo at fbatista6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Attwood at jattwood3@bloomberg.net, Reg Gale

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