Coffee farmers in Brazil have had a tough year due to severe weather conditions, including drought and frost, which resulted in irreparable damage to about 20% of their trees. Commodity trading houses have sent their coffee experts to review the crop for 2022. Weather conditions have swayed the outlook for next years crop, but even though estimates vary greatly, traders are betting on a less prosperous harvest.
Even though the price of Arabica slumped last week, they are still around the highest levels in a decade. These weather events, as well as the global container shortage that affected shipping, are contributing to the difficulties in securing supplies, which is keeping the price high.
Our Editor in Chief, Nick Baskett, spoke with one roaster in the UK, who lamented that the price he pays for his Brazilian Arabica has doubled. He’s now wondering about adding Robusta to his blends to keep them affordable.
Reuters reported that soft commodities analyst Judy Ganes, who recently toured Brazils coffee farms, estimated about 36 million bags of arabica production for the year ahead. This is one of the smallest projections on the market. According to Ganes, the drought and frosts damaged the vegetative health of the trees and thought some others are not fully taking this factor into account. She estimates a total crop of 55 million bags for both Arabica and Robusta — in comparison to the previous year’s bumper harvest of around 70 million.
Chief analyst at Coffee Trading Academy LLC, Ryan Delay, stated that even though the rains that followed the frosts produced nice flowering, it’s still uncertain as to the number of them that will grow into cherries.
Many trees developed new leaves in the branches, instead of berries, an unusual development probably linked to the harsh drought earlier in the year.Brazilian coffee agronomist Jonas Ferraresso
On the other hand, some are predicting the production won’t fall so far from last years record. According to the Reuters report, Rabobank, which specialises in agricultural financing, estimates the 2022 crop to be at 66.5 million bags, which, if correct, would create a surplus of 3 million bags globally, which would put downward pressure on the price.
However, we checked Rabobanks December report, and their summary appears to consider a weaker outlook as a possibility. The bank concludes the report with the following paragraph.
Currently, the situation is still favourable for crop development, especially looking at cumulative rainfall (historical average and the last cycle). However, there are concerns about fruit abortion due to suboptimal initial conditions of coffee trees (drought and frosts). Despite the rainier outlook and the on cycle output for arabica, the previous weather problems should limit production in 2022/23.Rabobank December coffee report
Supporting a more optimistic outlook, Paulo Armelin, who manages a 220 hectares farm in the Patrocinio area, says the conversion from flowering to cherries of his trees “looks fine” despite 20% of his fields being affected by the frosts.
With the varying estimates and analysis for the 2022 crop, it is still unclear how production will develop.