India’s coffee output to rebound to record high, say officials

India’s coffee output in the newly-started marketing year will hit a record high, the Indian Coffee Board said, contrasting with industry cautions of a dent to output from below-average rainfall.

The Indian Coffee Board estimated at 350,400 tonnes the country’s coffee production in 2017-18, which began on Sunday, a rise of 12.3% from last year’s 312,000-tonne crop.

Indeed, output at that level would be the strongest on record, exceeding the 348,000 tonnes produced in 2015-16.

And it would far exceed many market expectations for the crop, which were undermined by a weak start to the monsoon.

Monsoon worries

In August, the Karnataka Planters Association, a growers’ group for the top producing state of Karnataka, forecast a fall in 2016-17 output to some 300,000 tonnes, which would represent an eight-year low.

The group – which pegged output of arabica coffee at a nine-year low of 90,000 tonnes – cited weak rainfall in the state, with the relatively sunny weather a boost to the white stem borer pest too.

The US Department of Agriculture has forecast output at 5.45m bags (327,000 tonnes), comprising 3.97m bags (238,000 tonnes) of robusta beans, and 1.48m bags (89,000 tonnes) of arabica beans.

In Karnataka, the lack of rain has been viewed as a threat to the Karnataka cane crop too, with some market estimates of the state’s sugar output at 2.2m-2.5m tonnes – above last season’s 2.1m-tonne result, but short of earlier hopes for a rebound from last season’s drought-affected levels.

Arabica vs robusta

However, rains picked up in Karnataka over the past six weeks, meeting state averages.

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The more minor growing state of Tamil Nadu has seen an unusually strong monsoon.

The Indian Coffee Board, which is state run, said that its forecast reflected expectations of further growth in India’s coffee area, which has expanded by nearly 50% over the past 20 years.

The board pegged the Indian robusta coffee crop at 247,300 tonnes, a rise of some 30,000 bags year on year, and a clear record high.

The arabica harvest, which analysts have viewed as more vulnerable to weak rainfall earlier this year, was estimated at 103,100 tonnes, a rise of some 8,000 bags year on year, but remaining a little short of the 2015-16 record.

 

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