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COVID Lockdowns Stymie Vietnamese Robusta Exports

The global coffee supply gets dealt another major blow. After unexpected frosts stymied Arabica production across Brazil—with some regions expecting up to 20% losses in yield—the Robusta market looks to face similar shortages due to COVID, this time in Vietnam.

As reported by the Financial Times, Vietnam, the world’s leading exporter of Robusta and second-largest coffee producer behind Brazil, are facing issues getting their coffee out of the country and into the market. The country, which didn’t have its first day with over 100 new cases until May of this year and their first day with over 1,000 until July, had successfully avoided any COVID outbreak through the first year and a half of the pandemic thanks to strict tracking and containment measures, now finds themselves besieged by the Delta variant

A rise in infections coupled with a vaccine shortage has led the government to tighten restrictions even further, including imposing travel bans into producing areas of the country. With no way to get onto the coffee farm, exporters of Vietnamese have no means of getting a hold of the crops. “There are big worries that you may not be able to transport your coffee out of the country,” Rabobank’s Carlos Mera tells the Financial Times.

This has led the price of Robusta on the futures market to jump significantly, reaching a four-year high on Friday at a price of $2,043 per ton. This nearly 50% increase since the start of the year mimics that of Arabica’s price increase due to the expected shortage coming out of Brazil. Per the Financial Times, this has led many analysts to start “downgrading profit forecasts for some companies.”

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