Mumbai: The country’s coffee exports rose 0.4% in January, bucking last year’s trend due to higher arrivals of new season crops, an official from the Coffee Board said on Friday.
Total exports were 14,172 tonnes during January 2008 compared with 14,122 tonnes in the year-ago period, the official, who did not want to be identified, said.
India’s coffee exports fell 11% in 2007 to 223,565 tonnes from 250,980 tonnes in the previous year.
“The arrivals of Arabica coffee are in full swing from the main coffee-growing areas... some Robusta coffee have also started coming to the market,” said Murthy Krishnan of Allanasons Ltd, a leading coffee exporter. In India, Arabica harvesting starts in December, while Robusta arrivals begin in February.
There is a good demand for Indian Arabica as crops from Brazil are yet to come, said Venkat Krishnan of General Commodities Ltd. In Brazil, the world’s largest coffee producer, arrivals are expected to start from May.
Indian Robusta is also attracting a strong export interest as there is a shortage of coffee from Vietnam, the world’s largest Robusta producer, he added. Vietnam’s exports in January fell by more than one-third from the previous year as farmers held onto their stocks in anticipation of higher prices.
Robusta coffee prices in London have risen about 10% since the end of last year, while Arabica coffee prices closed at a three-month high in New York. “Both the markets look very, very strong and we don’t see any dilution in that,” Venkat Krishnan said.
Arabica coffee is used in premium coffee, while Robusta is typically blended with Arabica beans for a lower-cost option for brewed coffee, or processed into instant coffee.
However, higher freight rates to European countries pose a threat to Indian exports, he said. A container from India to European countries costs about $2,000 (Rs78,800), whereas from Latin American countries it costs only $700-800, he added.
India exports coffee mainly to Italy, Germany and Russia. Italy accounts for 24% of the country’s exports, followed by Russia and Germany with 12% and 5%, respectively. The country produces only 4.5% of the world’s coffee. However, exports account for 70-80% of the output.