Coffee exports from Vietnam, the biggest producer of robusta beans, may fall to the lowest in six years, as farmers hold out for higher prices, amid a forecast global supply shortage, according to the nation’s largest shipper.
Shipments are forecast at 1.1 million metric tons to 1.2 million metric tons this year, Do Ha Nam, the CEO of Intimex Group, said in an interview last week. That would be the lowest level since 2010, according to customs data.
Robusta futures, which slumped 20 percent in 2015, may rebound this year because of concerns over global supply, said Nam, who is also the vice chairman of Vietnam Coffee and Cocoa Association. Rabobank International and Olam International Ltd. are also anticipating gains in the coffee markets.
“Prices are still on a down trend so farmers are not intending to sell, especially as prices are approaching their cost of production,” Nam said. “A crisis of global shortage could happen in April and May as there will be little supply from Indonesia and Vietnam.”
Robusta, used by companies including Nestle SA, gained 3.4 percent to $1,413 a ton on ICE Futures Europe on Monday, trimming their decline for the year to 7.7 percent.
Should prices remain at those levels, the premium for farmers in Vietnam will climb to $50 a ton or more, Nam said. The current domestic premium of about $30 hasn’t attracted farmers to sell stockpiled beans, he said in the interview from Ho Chi Minh City on February 26.
Total production in Vietnam in 2015-2016 will not be more than last season’s 1.5 million tons because of impact from El Niño, Nam said. Production in the 2016-2017 harvest will continue to be limited, as low prices have reduced replanting. Growers are replacing old coffee trees with pepper or fruit crops. The total planted is forecast to drop to 600,000 hectares this year from 650,000 hectares last year. Green bean exports will also drop due to more investment in instant coffee production, Nam added.
Intimex’s coffee exports in 2016 are forecast to rise to 400,000 tons, from 350,000 tons last year as the company markets higher-quality products, he said.
Coffee prices are set to increase as certified stockpiles are drawing down at an alarming rate, Olam CEO Sunny Verghese said on Monday. Robusta futures may gain as much as $200 a ton in coming months, as exports from Brazil and Indonesia are set to fall after dry weather curbed yields and farmers in Vietnam may decide to continue withholding beans, Carlos Mera Arzeno, an analyst at Rabobank, said earlier this month.
Pepper shipments from Vietnam, the world’s biggest producer, will likely rise 13 percent this year, pushing down export prices, according to the chairman of the nation’s industry group.
Exports will climb to 150,000 metric tons from about 133,000 tons in 2015, Do Ha Nam, the chairman of the Vietnam Pepper Association, said in an interview. While production will also rise—by 10 percent to about 140,000 tons—he said output from the likes of India, Indonesia and Malaysia will probably decline because of the impact of El Niño, limiting the effect on global supply.
The average export price of Vietnamese pepper will drop from last year, while remaining higher than 2014, Nam said. The rate was about $9,500 a ton in 2015 and $7,750 the year before, customs data show.
“Vietnamese farmers still have relatively strong capability of controlling prices so prices may not fall much,” Nam said on February 26 in a phone interview from Ho Chi Minh City. “Growers are still making huge profits so they aren’t holding back sales.”
The area of pepper plantings will rise to 100,000 hectares (ha) (250,000 acres) this year, from 80,000 to 85,000 ha last year, he said. The new vines will take three years to come into production, eventually dragging on prices, he said.