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Coffee prices are at 10-year highs, and they have much further to go

Coffee prices are at 10-year highs, and they have much further to go

December 2, 2021: -Coffee prices have reached a 10-year high, and analysts expect tightness in the market to continue into 2023.

Coffee contracts for December delivery ended the trading session at $2.34 per pound on Monday. On Thursday, coffee futures on New York’s Intercontinental Exchange hit $2.46, which marks the highest price since 2011, when the commodity broke over $3 per pound.

Meanwhile, the International Coffee Association’s benchmark price was $2.07 per pound on Friday, up 85% from the previous year.

Ole Hansen, head of a commodity strategy at Saxo Bank, told CNBC, “a perfect storm of events conspiring to give our beloved bean a boost.”

“The question for future price action is much of these developments are potentially longer-lasting,” he said in a phone call. “I think we need to focus on what’s been unfolding in Brazil this year, where we’ve had a generational low in temperatures, a rapid spell of frost which reached some of the growing areas, and we’ve had a period of drought this has left the 2022 crop in a bit of a precarious state.”

“We saw the coffee rally to about $3 per pound back in 2011, when we had another Brazil scare,” he said. “These are the kind of numbers that prompt the market to speculate whether we can get to those levels once again, and I think with Brazil in mind, and if the projections over the coming months that keeps confirming a slowdown or reduction in output, then the risk of our brew getting expensive is very real.”

Alongside lousy weather, global supply constraints have substantially impacted the coffee market because producers and roasters, which refine coffee into the product we drink, are often located in different countries. Market uncertainty also stems from exporting countries such as Ethiopia, which is on the brink of a civil war, and Vietnam, which is seeing a rise in Covid-19 cases that could hit production. 

“I think on balance we have a market which is, for the first time in years, starting to show some tightness,” Hansen adds.

Maximillian Copestake, executive director of European coffee sales at Marex, said that coffee was engaging in “a huge price race that is predominantly driven by freight dislocations.”

“For the last five to eight years, we’ve had supply one or two big coffee-producing origins, one of them being Brazil, one of them being Vietnam,” he told CNBC through telephone.

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Coffee prices are at 10-year highs, and they have much further to go