Brazil coffee production struggles after drought

Jan 13, 2015 12:00 AM

Brazil, the world's largest coffee producer, will deliver a 2015 harvest in line with that achieved last year but well down from 2013 following months of drought, national grains supply company Conab said Tuesday.

"First estimates for the coffee harvest show Brazil should harvest between 44.11 and 46.61 million 60-kilo bags this year," in line with last year's 45.34 million, Conab said, adding that the figure could vary by some 2.7 percent either way.

Conab forecast that arabica quality production will come in at between 32.5 and 34.4 million sacks, a rise of between 0.6 and 6.5 percent after producers planted more arabica grade coffee in key regions, including Minas Gerais and Parana.

Conab added that lower quality Robusta, accounting for around a quarter of overall production, had slipped on the back of the country's worst drought in decades.

Last year's total yield was down 7.7 percent compared to 2013 and well below initial forecasts, the ministry of agriculture said last week, noting production of high grade arabica had slumped 15 percent, sending prices soaring by half last year.

Production in 2014 had initially been forecast at between 60 and 65 million 60-kilogram bags before drought struck the country's main growing centers in south and south central Brazil, from the first weeks of last year through November.

Brazil's 290,000 growers produce around a third of the world's coffee -- out-producing the country's nearest competitor, Vietnam, by more than three times.

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