Vietnam's coffee growers sell 60 pct of 2011-12 crop, Volcafe says

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Coffee growers in Vietnam, the world's largest producer of robusta beans, sold about 60 percent of the current season's crop, according to Volcafe, a unit of commodities trader ED&F Man Holdings Ltd.

The country's harvest will rise to a record 22.1 million bags of coffee in the 2011-12 season begun in October from 20 million bags in the prior period, the trader estimated last month. Vietnamese farmers have held back beans as they wait for better prices after robusta slid 14 percent last year in London trading on NYSE Liffe.

The premium paid by buyers of Vietnamese coffee to NYSE Liffe prices was unchanged from last week at $10 a metric ton for beans for April and May shipment, Volcafe said in a weekly report to clients e-mailed Friday. Bean offers for nearby shipment are "plentiful in volume," it said, while those for forward months are "difficult to get" and demand for the period "goes unsatisfied."

"Freight-rate increases make delivery to the board unattractive," Winterthur, Switzerland-based Volcafe said, referring to bean shipments to NYSE Liffe.

Hauling coffee to ports in northern Europe from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, cost about $1,600 to $1,650 for every 20-foot container in January, according to A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S, the world's biggest container-ship owner. That compares with the rate of $1,250 cited by the company in August.

In Indonesia, the third-biggest robusta grower, local prices remain "expensive" and offers for the 2012-13 crop starting in April are "hard to find," Volcafe said.

The premium for Indonesian coffee to NYSE Liffe prices rose to $120 a ton from $100 last week for beans for April and May shipment, figures from the trader show.

Robusta for May delivery climbed 0.6 percent to $2,020 a ton by 1:46 p.m. on NYSE Liffe in London. Prices are up 12 percent this year.

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