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(Bloomberg) -- The world is flooded with coffee, but it’s mostly boring beans. For the hand-crafted, artisanal specialty brews, you have to pay up.Cheap coffee has forced some growers to exit the business, while others are selling their product at a loss, leaving less money to invest in rarer, more-expensive beans. That means varieties favored by some high-end suppliers like Stumptown Coffee Roaster or Nestle SA’s Blue Bottle are surging in price -- and that’s reaching consumers.Scott Beard, a West Virginia-based music teacher and baritone, recently got sticker shock when a cafe latte he bought while traveling in Paris cost him $15.80 at a high-end hotel. He might have gotten a bargain. A bag of Elida Estate Panama Geisha roasted by Dragonfly Coffee Roasters recently set an auction record at $1,029 a pound.“There’s a lot of coffee in the world, but not the good stuff,” said Peter Roberts, a professor at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School.U.S. retail prices for high-end coffee surged 24% while their lower-end cousins rose 7% in the four years ended in mid-June 2018, according to data tracked by Roberts. Over the same time, the benchmark contract on ICE Futures U.S. in New York plunged 33%. The drop for futures means most farmers are getting paid about $1 a pound, or less, for regular beans.Low prices means production is falling in areas that specialize in premium beans such as Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala.Buyers are feeling the pinch. Milwaukee-based Colectivo raised prices recently amid increased demand, according to Al Liu, the 21-store chain’s vice president of coffee.“The demand for that coffee isn’t just coming from North America and Europe,” he said. “Buyers in East Asia have kind of come out of left field, and said ‘Hey, we’re willing to pay top dollar.’”‘Two-Way Street’Despite the depressed commodity cost, Colectivo is paying farmers similar prices to what beans fetched in previous years in a bid to encourage production. “You might be able to save quite a bit of money when the market is down, but that may not endear you to suppliers -- this is a two-way street,” Liu said.Only about 15% of the world’s coffee falls into the specialty category, said Ric Rhinehart, executive director emeritus at the Specialty Coffee Association. Given that producers tend to plant both ordinary and gourmet beans, low benchmark prices mean they can’t afford investments in specialty trees, machinery or fertilizers.Take the case of Carlos Batres, a fifth-generation coffee grower in El Salvador. He was the first producer in the world to produce the specialty pacamara variety in the 1980s. His beans can fetch a premium of as much as 300% over benchmark prices.Producing the variety requires meticulous care and labor. Batres is lucky to have started his specialty business more than three decades ago. It’s unfathomable to think he’d be able to make the switch at current prices.“We do everything we can: cut only the ripe cherries, make sure they are shade grown, place windbreakers so the plant isn’t hurt. Everything is done by hand,” said the 66-year-old farmer. He estimates El Salvador is now producing about 10% of what it did at its peak in 1979.“We would not be able to survive if we were paid the exchange prices,” he said.Meanwhile, demand has never been stronger. The New York-based National Coffee Association estimates the share of gourmet coffee consumed by Americans reached a new high at 61%.It’s easy to see why consumption is growing -- by some measures, coffee has never tasted better. The Elida Estate Panama Geisha variety from Dragonfly Coffee Roasters, the java that set an auction record, also got the highest ever tasting score from Coffee Review, an industry benchmark.“Production will start to fall off if coffee farmers aren’t able to make a sustainable living,” said Tamas Christman, the founder and chief executive officer of Boulder, Colorado-based Dragonfly. The specialty varieties can help in “getting people to understand it’s worth more than what the commodity market is giving it,” he said.Part of the problem is that many suppliers and buyers are basing their prices off of the New York futures market, which Roberts of Emory University call the “elephant” in the room.Some growers in Mexico and Central America are switching to food crops like corn because of the sustained price slump, said Michael Sheridan, the director of sourcing and shared value at Chicago-based Intelligentsia Coffee, a chain of boutique coffee shops.“Most of the risk goes to the people who can least afford to bear it, who are the growers,” Sheridan said. “Growers are not just facing a price risk, they’re facing an acute threat from climate change. The odds are more stacked against growers today than they were during that last price crisis.”\--With assistance from Millie Munshi.To contact the reporters on this story: Marvin G. Perez in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org;Leslie Patton in Chicago at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: James Attwood at firstname.lastname@example.org, Millie Munshi, Reg GaleFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Corn futures rose on Friday, headed for their first gain in seven sessions, after a monthly report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture revealed a lower estimate for domestic 2019/2020 corn production. The USDA said corn production is forecast at 13.661 billion bushels for the current marketing year, down 118 million from last month's estimate. The government agency also lowered its corn yield forecast by 1.4 bushels per acre to 167 bushels per acre. "The lowered corn yield did seem to put some support into intraday prices," said Sal Gilbertie, president and chief investment officer at Teucrium Trading. "The global balance sheet is still tightening versus last year in corn," he said. The most-active December corn contract rose 6 cents, or 1.6%, to trade at $3.81 1/4 a bushel in Chicago, headed for the first session gain since Oct. 30, according to FactSet data.
Grain merchant Archer Daniels Midland Co is waiving the fees it charges farmers to dry grain at three of its Midwestern corn processors as it seeks supplies to keep the plants running at optimum levels through a slow, wet harvest period, a spokeswoman said on Thursday. Farmers, who are weeks behind schedule in much of the U.S. corn belt due to rainy harvest conditions, have been reluctant to sell their grain at current price levels. Free drying offers them a significant break as tight supplies of propane needed to run grain driers have sent costs soaring this fall.
Months after historic floods ravaged the U.S. Midwest, farmers scrambling to harvest their crops face a new headache: finding fuel to dry their soaked grains. Normally, farmers use propane as fuel for grain dryers to reduce moisture levels in corn crops to ready for sale or to safely store the grain.
Excessive rains and an October snowstorm have stalled the harvest in the U.S. grain belt's northern tier, one more blow to farmers already struggling with the effects of planting delays and a trade war that has pressured commodity prices. The corn and soybean harvests are especially delayed in North Dakota and Minnesota - precisely the states suffering the most from the U.S.-China trade war due to their reliance on exporting to Asia through West Coast ports.
(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump’s effort to boost corn demand by allowing year-round sales of ethanol-blended gasoline has run into a logistical problem. Few stations offer it.In corn country, gasoline with a 15% blend of ethanol is now pretty accessible year-round. But in large population states including California and New York it remains limited, and individual station owners are hesitating to put up the money to retrofit their pumps.In a nod to the president’s Midwest voter base, U.S. officials in May allowed summertime sales of E15 gasoline containing up to 15% ethanol, a fuel made from corn and other crops. That move offered the promise of a surge in year-round sales, potentially stealing market share from the E10 mix. But while 30 states now have stations selling E15 year-round, the number offering it nationally is below 2,000, mostly located in Minnesota and Iowa. according to the Growth Energy trade association.In oil-mad Texas, for instance, gas made with no ethanol whatsoever is getting more of a boost, with the number of stations offering it rising to 283 in two years.“The largest challenge for E15 is getting more states to change their laws to allow it,” Corey Lavinsky, a biofuels analyst at S&P Global Platts, said in an interview. “Demand should not be an issue. E15 can be sold at a lower price than the competitor across the street selling E10.”But to get there, stations need to spend as much as a quarter-million dollars to retrofit their pumps and do a better job marketing E15 as a less expensive, higher-octane alternative for consumers at the pump.“The market is going to drive this. If there is demand for a product, our guys are going to be the ones to sell it,” said Paige Anderson, government relations director at the National Association of Convenience Stores.A new Trump administration plan outlined on Oct. 4 aims to stoke U.S. demand for ethanol, in part by seeking greater funding for infrastructure projects to get higher biofuel blends to consumers. Under that deal, the Environmental Protection Agency also will pursue streamlining requirements for labels meant to prevent motorists from dispensing E15 into automobiles not authorized to use the fuel, amid criticism from ethanol producers the warnings scare off consumers.Boaters, bikers and recreational vehicle owners complain that it negatively affects gasoline that’s unused over time, and older cars can’t handle it. That’s led to some general skepticism by all carmakers.There is some progress. In Midwest corn belt states, more stations are offering E15 and more motorists are buying it. In Minnesota, for instance, 50.6 million gallons of E15 had been sold by the end of August, according to the state’s Commerce Department. By the end of this month, the amount sold is expected top the 59.4 million gallons sold in all of 2018.New York SavingsAnd in New York state, regulators are taking public comment on how to sell it and could become the 31st state to approve its sale. New York’s commissioner of agriculture and markets’ office, which said that 90% of New York vehicles can take E15, estimates savings of 4 to 10 cents a gallon because of the larger share of ethanol.Meanwhile, buyers of 0% ethanol covet purity, with ethanol-blended fuel having 60 to 80 components when compared with 16 for E0, said Andy Deel, division manager of consumer products at retail seller VP Racing Fuels in San Antonio, Texas. “It’s like a small-batch whiskey,” he said. “We only put what we think should be in the product.”Retailer Buc-ee’s will add E0 pumps at a store in Ennis near Dallas in the first quarter of 2020 to give it 14 such outlets. Racetrac, Murphy USA and QuikTrip also added the grade in the state.“Texas is going a little bit retro,” said Tony Castro, fuel director at Circle K in San Antonio.To be sure, ethanol-free gasoline is more of a curiosity than a market mover and is hard to find in big cities lacking boaters and hunters.New York leads the nation with about 1,000 E0 stations with the recent additions of E0 at Stewart’s Shops. Stewart’s added the grade at 275 upstate stores to fill demand for boats, ATVs and lawn-care equipment, spokeswoman Erica Komoroske said.Adding ethanol is certain to boost octane, which could woo some drivers. The 750-store Racetrac chain brands its E15 as Unleaded 88, higher than the typical 87-octane for regular gasoline, and sells it at about 200 stores.“What the consumer has told us is they like more affordable fuel,” said Michael O’Brien, vice president for market development at Growth Energy. “They like that the octane is higher with E15, so that’s better for the engine, and they like that they are doing something for the environment.”(Deletes mention of Texas in the first deckhead.)\--With assistance from Jennifer A. Dlouhy.To contact the reporters on this story: Jeffrey Bair in Houston at email@example.com;Jacquelyn Melinek in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: David Marino at email@example.com, Reg Gale, Catherine TraywickFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
An ethanol production increase expected for Brazil, the world's second largest market for the biofuel, will not be enough to cope with rising demand and the country will continue importing fuel from the United States to cover the shortfall. According to analysts from S&P Global Platts, demand for ethanol in Brazil will increase around 2.5% per year in coming years, due to a new federal policy to boost use and to the price advantage over gasoline in the local market. "Even with new capacity coming from corn-based ethanol plants, that won't be enough to supply increasing demand," Beatriz Pupo, senior biofuels analyst for Platts, said on Wednesday.
Corn farmers, ethanol producers, refinery representatives, energy traders and state and local officials from the Midwest all blasted away at the Trump administration's proposed biofuels plan for next year during a public hearing on Wednesday hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The hearing in Ann Arbor, Michigan, marks the second public meeting on the topic in as many days, airing the grievances of the opposing oil and corn constituencies President Donald Trump has been working to win over ahead of next year's election. At issue is a proposal unveiled this month by Trump’s EPA that would increase the amount of corn-based ethanol some oil refineries must blend next year to make up for volumes the agency expects to waive under its Small Refinery Exemption program.
According to the National Confectioners Association, the US makes 35 million pounds of the treat, annually, generating $36 million in sales. Candy overall is a $35 billion industry in the US, projected to near $40 billion by 2023. In the US, candy corn is the most favored Halloween treat after chocolate.
Representatives of both the oil and corn industries are poised to sound off against the Trump administration's proposed biofuels plan for next year during a public hearing on Wednesday hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The hearing in Ann Arbor, Michigan, will mark the second public meeting on the topic in as many days, airing the grievances of two key political constituencies that President Donald Trump has been working hard to win over ahead of next year's election. At issue is a proposal unveiled this month by Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency that would increase the amount of corn-based ethanol some oil refineries must blend next year to make up for volumes the agency expects to waive under its Small Refinery Exemption program.
The Trump administration, in an effort to mend fences with the powerful corn lobby, proposed a deal on Tuesday to offset waivers for oil refiners exempting them from the nation's biofuel blending requirements. The proposed plan would calculate the volume of biofuels U.S. refiners have to blend by using a three-year average of exempted gallons as recommended by the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency said. This will potentially boost demand for biofuels like ethanol, a response to farmers outraged by the EPA's decision in August to exempt 31 oil refineries from their obligations under the nation's Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday his administration's proposal to boost the biofuels market next year would bring the amount of corn-based ethanol mixed into the nation's fuel to about 16 billion gallons (60.6 billion liters). "We’ve come to an agreement and its going to be, I guess, about, getting close to 16 billion ... that’s a lot of gallons. The U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program currently requires refiners to blend 15 billion gallons of ethanol per year, but the corn lobby has said the Environmental Protection Agency's use of waivers means the actual volumes blended are lower than that.
Midwest corn harvests are about a month behind the typical season and expected corn yields are lower than last year. Meanwhile, in the southern United States, the corn harvest is business as usual for ...
Ecuadorean authorities began arresting shopkeepers for raising food prices as indigenous groups clashed with security forces on Sunday in a fourth day of protests against President Lenin Moreno's austerity measures. Ecuadoreans complain consumer prices have risen sharply as a knock-on effect of Moreno's abolition of fuel subsidies, which has also triggered the nation's worst unrest in more than a decade. The government said 20 people were detained over the weekend for over-charging for products including corn, onions, carrots and potatoes, which are all subject to price controls.
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, Oct 4 (Reuters) - The Trump administration is expected on Friday to unveil a new plan to boost U.S. biofuels demand as it seeks the support of farmers in next year’s election, four sources briefed on the matter told Reuters, a move likely to trigger a backlash from the oil industry. President Donald Trump promised farmers a “giant package” related to ethanol in August after his administration angered the powerful corn lobby by exempting 31 oil refineries https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-biofuels-trump/trump-intervention-triggered-epas-surprise-biofuel-waiver-decision-sources-idUSKCN1V610F from their obligations under the nation’s biofuel policy, freeing them from a requirement to blend corn-based ethanol into their fuel or buy credits from those who do.
The Trump administration is expected to announce by Friday details of a U.S. biofuels policy deal to help farmers angry over waivers granted to refiners exempting them from using corn-based ethanol and other biofuels, four sources familiar with the matter said. The White House has held weeks of discussions with farm- and oil-state senators and executives at oil refiners and officials at biofuels producers. A White House spokesman declined to comment.
U.S. biofuel industry sources said on Thursday they were concerned that an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump could delay a pending deal on biofuels policy that is meant to boost demand for corn-based ethanol and biodiesel. Two weeks ago, Trump met with biofuel officials, farm- and oil-state senators and oil refining executives to hash out the details of a "giant package" related to ethanol that he had promised in August. While the groups seemed to be on the cusp of an agreement, Trump now finds himself mired in an intensifying partisan fight that could monopolize his attention for weeks, if not months.
Taiwan has committed $2.2 billion to purchase Illinois soybeans, corn and corn products over the next two years, Governor JB Pritzker said on Tuesday, as U.S. farmers struggle to find new markets because of the U.S.-China trade war. A statement from Pritzker's office said the Illinois Corn Marketing Board and the Taiwan Feed Industry Association signed a letter of intent for Taiwan to buy 5 million tonnes of corn and 0.5 million tonnes of corn products.