Vietnamese farmers sell up to 55 pct of coffee crop, Volcafe says

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Farmers in Vietnam, the world's largest robusta coffee producer, have sold 50 percent to 55 percent of the 2011-12 crop, according to Volcafe, the coffee unit of commodities trader ED&F Man Holdings Ltd.

Vietnam will produce a record 22.1 million bags in the season started in October, up from 20 million bags in 2010-11, the Winterthur, Switzerland-based trader estimates. Robusta prices jumped 11 percent this year as farmers in Vietnam withheld beans, awaiting higher prices. They fell 14 percent last year as traders anticipated a sizable crop in Vietnam. A bag of coffee weighs 60 kilograms, or 132 pounds.

The "Liffe uptrend makes farmers and local agents believe in their coffee holding," Volcafe said in a weekly report e-mailed to clients on Friday. "Physical coffee flow is not so sizable as it was a month ago."

Vietnamese beans for March and April shipment were trading at a premium of $10 a metric ton to robusta prices on NSYE Liffe in London, data from the trader show. Last week the prices were identical.

The harvest in Indonesia, the world's third-largest robusta grower, will start "picking up" from the end of April or beginning of May, Volcafe said, citing unidentified local exporters. That represents a slight delay to initial estimates of early April, the trader said.

Indonesian beans for March and April shipment were at a premium of $90 a ton to the NYSE Liffe price, according to Volcafe data. That compares to $100 last week.

Robusta coffee for May delivery slipped 0.3 percent to $2,011 a ton by 3:13 p.m. in London.

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