According to the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam’s coffee export is expected to increase in the upcoming months, due to growing global demand and free trade agreements. However, the increase in demand amplifies the issue of the shortage of workers due to the pandemic.
Coffee exports for Vietnam up to October this year decreased year on year — a total of 1.27 million tonnes, worth $2.45 billion was exported, which is a 4.2% decrease in volume, but a 5.4% increase in value. Vietnam exports to the European Union, its biggest market, made up revenue of $769 million, which is a 17% decrease annually. Exports to ASEAN made up revenue of $259m, which is a 19.45% decrease annually.
However, Vietnam Coffee, Cocoa Association (VICOFA), stated that monthly coffee exports for both November and December are expected to reach nearly 130,000 tonnes. In comparison, October’s exports were estimated at 90,000 tonnes. Furthermore, if the export prices remain high, exports could bring an additional USD600 million, resulting in a total of $3 billion for the year.
This increase in demand for Vietnamese coffee brings forward the issue of the lack of manpower in the coffee sector in Vietnam. On top of supply disruptions in the country, the COVID 19 pandemic has affected the industry, in terms of coffee material sales, which has led to a shortage of workers. During the 2021 to 2022 crop, the Dak Nong provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development reported that they need about 13 million workers for their 130,000 hectares of coffee plantation. currently, they only have half that workforce.
In a response to this issue, provinces have come up with plans to bring workers back in time for the coffee harvest, however, this depends on the level of the pandemic risk in the country.