Coffee production in Colombia remains strong

The Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) offered an update on the coffee situation in Colombia on 29 April (the previous update was six months ago). Roberto Véléz, CEO of the FNC said that more than 70,000 people in Colombia have died from Covid-19 and about four million have been vaccinated. The goal is to have eight million people vaccinated by the end of May. Despite the pandemic and current social unrest, coffee production in Colombia is doing well.

Véléz noted that although the weather has not been the best in many growing areas throughout Colombia, the coffee quality has been good, and the FNC is expecting the volume of coffee to be similar to last year with a production of 14 million bags (60 kg). He added that Colombia is dealing with many challenges including the peso being down and Covid is now moving from more urban areas to more rural ones.

Hernando Duque, the FNC’s chief technical officer, provided a coffee production overview, sharing that the projection for the first semester of 2021 is more than six million green bags. Broken down by geographical zones, the estimated crop production in Colombia is:

  • Center: 3,441,249 bags — up 56.8%
  • North: 219,072 — up 3.5%
  • South: 2,399,824 — up 39.6%

In the last phytosanitary survey, which was conducted in January, Duque reported that there are no problems in the short term. The national coffee berry borer – the main coffee pest in Colombia – average infestation was 2.03%, which is a low level. The national average infection of coffee leaf rust was 6.5%, which is almost normal. He said that although this is not a high infection level, it’s being monitored carefully.

Regarding labour availability, there are minimal difficulties. For coffee harvesting (national level week 16), 89% of producers claimed they have enough labour, with 11% saying they have insufficient labour. Duque said there is also a normal supply of labour for agronomic management of the crops, with 88% reported having enough, and just 12% saying that they have insufficient labour.

There are also no problems related to coffee commercialisation at farm level, that is, producers can pay for labour. “Up to this week [16], there are no major problems to face, at national level, that could bring risk to the mid-term crop,” said Duque.

Juan Camilo Ramos, chief commercial officer of the FNC, provided a logistics, operational, commercial update, sharing that the FNC has been working hard to secure coffee supply while generating value for Colombia coffee growers.

He said that although coffee production in 2020 decreased by 6% compared to 2019, the 2021 crop is already higher than the same period in 2020 (up 2%) and exports have also been higher (up 4%) during coffee year 2020/2021 vs 2019/2020. Illustrating how coffee consumption is developing in the world, Ramos noted domestic coffee consumption in 2020 increased by 12.4% compared to 2019.

“The internal coffee flow in the first months of 2021 has been much better than last year,” said Ramos. “We have been able to maintain our operations in warehouses, milling plants, roasting plants, and Buencafé’s freeze-dried factory.” He added that they have also been able to deliver coffee to the three main ports resolving initial limited transport problems, representing a 39% increase in deliveries to ports vs 2020 during the same period (March to April), which they have been able to do despite logistics operations being severely impacted in 2021 — 47 vessels cancelled or rescheduled resulting in 171 containers being affected.

Ramos pointed out that as world coffee consumption is growing and the demand for high quality coffee continues to increase, producers are embracing higher quality. Furthermore, internal prices have peaked during the pandemic and are considerably higher than previous years. Another important trend is that as Colombia’s domestic consumption is becoming stronger, local roasters are providing higher quality coffee, more specialty coffee, “which is why we see consumption growing,” Ramos explained.

Juan Estaban Orduz, president, Colombian Coffee Federation, Inc, the North American subsidiary of FNC, said that the third World Coffee Producers Forum will take place in two parts, with the first being held virtually on 15 July. Part two will be held in person in July 2022 (location TBA at a later date).

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