Bloomberg News

Colombia’s Top Coffee Region to Recover Gradually

June 28, 2012

Colombia, the world’s second-largest supplier of Arabica coffee, will take as many as four years to recover production in one of its top growing provinces, the chief of the region’s farmers said.

Harvests will recover “gradually” from above-average rainfall and disease that has damaged crops since 2009 in the central province of Antioquia, Luis Fernando Botero, executive director for the region at Colombia’s National Federation of Coffee Growers, said in an interview yesterday in Medellin.

“It all depends on the climate,” Botero said. “What kills us are the excesses.”

Output nationwide will rise to about 8 million bags this year after dry weather returned, the federation’s Chief Executive Officer Luis Munoz said yesterday. Colombia produced 7.81 million bags of coffee in 2011, a 35-year low. The crop has yet to match 2008’s output of 11.5 million bags, attained before some of the worst rains in Colombia’s history damaged crops.

Antioquia last year lost its ranking as the nation’s largest coffee-growing province for the first time to the southern region of Huila after storms battered farms. A slow recovery in Antioquia is “bullish” for the coffee market, Sterling Smith, a commodity analyst at Citigroup Inc. in Chicago, said in a telephone interview.

“It’s going to provide an ongoing type of support for the market,” he said.

Falling Prices

Arabica-coffee futures for September delivery slid 1.1 percent to $1.6305 a pound on ICE Futures U.S. at 1 p.m. in New York. Coffee pared declines after Botero’s comments.

Coffee has dropped 28 percent this year on speculation supplies will increase from Brazil, the largest producer of Arabica coffee favored by brewers such as Starbucks Corp. (SBUX:US)

The steep mountainsides of Antioquia are covered in farms run by families that depend on coffee as their main source of income, Botero said from the provincial capital.

Production in the region will be a “little better” in the last six months of the year from a year earlier because of drier weather, he said. Flowering began “very well” this month for plants that will need a balance of sunshine and rainfall until the process ends in August, Botero said.

“We’d have a crop in good conditions for the next first half of the year,” he said.

Antioquia accounts for almost 16 percent of Colombian coffee production, Botero said.

Each bag of coffee weighs 60 kilograms (132 pounds.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Heather Walsh in Bogota at hlwalsh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Attwood at jattwood3@bloomberg.net


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