Brazilian coffee exporters are being troubled by insufficient shipping capacities to transport the abundant harvest from the world’s top producer, which could give rise to delayed shipment to global roasters.
The delayed output of Brazil’s new crop, however, may have less negative impact on near-term coffee prices that see 12-year lows, thanks to stable overall supplies in consuming countries.
As the Brazilian government and industry expect, coffee planters are meeting the set goal to produce a record high of about 60 million 60-kg bags of coffee crop compared with 45 million bags last year.
There aren’t enough container ships at present to immediately deliver the vast volume of coffee beans that are arriving at major ports such as Santos and Rio de Janeiro, industry insiders said.
In previous years, coffee exporters typically booked required capacity on container ships only one or two weeks in advance, but now they may probably have a wait of up to eight weeks.
For Unique Coffee Roasters, a medium-sized roaster on New York’s Staten Island, shipping delays will postpone the arrival of their new crop purchased from Brazil to from early September as scheduled previously to October, said Joseph Ferrara, director of the company’s Coffee and Operations department.
“It’s happening to everyone. It’s not something (importers) can really control,” said Ferrara, adding the roaster has sufficient inventory to wait out the delay.
The delayed shipments come after U.S. coffee imports from Brazil shrank by 6.6 percent to a six-year low in the first half of 2018, U.S. International Trade Commission data showed.
“Usually it will take a week at most to get a new booking. Now sometimes it’s taking three to four weeks,” said Rodrigo Costa, director of trading for Comexim USA.
According to the latest monthly report from Brazil’s coffee exporters association Cecafé, shipments in July jumped 28 percent from a year earlier and could have performed even better if not for “difficulties at ports.”
The current shipping difficulties in Brazil come after the economy suffered its deepest recession on record in 2017, which pulled down its imports and as a result, cut the availability of containers available for exporting Brazilian goods, importers and exporters said.
Only container-carried commodities have been impacted by insufficient shipping capacities, traders said, adding grains and sugar, which are largely transported in bulk cargo ships, are not facing the same delays.
Coffee is usually carried in containers and so is suffering from a transportation pinch now as Brazil sees a bumper crop harvest this year and desires to sell as much as it can.
It was not clear whether the availability of container ship will be improved in coming months as the Brazil’s economy remains sluggish with weak imports.