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Coffee futures hit 10-year high on shortage fears

November 18, 2021, 4:55 PM UTC

Coffee futures have hit their highest point in 10 years, which could mean your morning kickstart is about to get notably more expensive.

Arabica coffee futures on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) spiked to $236.95 this morning, the highest price since Nov. 1, 2011. Since early August, prices have jumped more than 35%. Year to date, they have more than doubled.

The extreme volatility comes as supply fears surrounding top producers in Brazil and Columbia continue to escalate. Crops were severely damaged this year, due to fire, drought, and frost. And Brazil, which accounts for 40% of the world’s output of coffee, doesn’t have sufficient inventory to fill those gaps. Add in shipping constraints and the concern is even higher. (Some shipments are taking more than three times as long to reach their destination.)

Higher fertilizer prices are also driving wholesale prices up for growers.

All of these factors could send prices up by as much as 50 cents per pound in the near future, experts tell Bloomberg. And if futures continue to escalate (and they show no signs of stopping at present) that price increase could be even higher. This comes as consumers already struggle with inflation increasing the cost of other foods.

Climate-based issues, like the ones coffee growers are facing, are spreading. Over the next three decades, we can expect a 10% decline in crop yields, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management. In that same period, the global population is expected to grow by more than 20%.

Some experts say Brazil’s poor harvest will impact the coffee market for years, as damage done to the trees is severe and many growers will have to severely prune branches in hopes that the trunks sprout new shoots in the years to come.

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