Coffee Bean Reserves Reach 20-Year Low

Amirah Johnson

(A picture of coffee beans.) Image Source: Food & Drink- World Travel Guide

Heads up, coffee lovers. Your morning cup of joe may soon become more difficult to get. Coffee bean reserves have plunged to their lowest since the 2000s. 

Bloomberg article reported, “Stockpiles of high-end Arabica beans, a favourite of artisan coffee shops and chains such as Starbucks, totalled 1.078 million bags, or about 143 million pounds, according to data released Monday by the ICE Futures US exchange.”

Brazil is the world’s top coffee producer. By the 1820’s it was already producing thirty percent of the world’s coffee. Today, it produces a third of the world’s coffee with 40 to 60 million bags annually.  However, its global demand for coffee has been put in jeopardy due to factors such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.   

        (Workers harvesting coffee beans in Brazil. Image Source: Bloomberg) 

According to a Reuters article, “Brazil’s government said that farmers in the world’s largest coffee producer will harvest 55.74 million bags in 2022, 16.8% more than in the previous year, but an amount that is smaller than most in the market expect.”

Extreme weather conditions have impacted the growth of coffee beans. In March of 2021, Brazil faced its worst drought in ninety years.  Not too long after, in July of 2021, frost was reported in some of Brazil’s coffee-producing areas.  

The sudden frost happened on July 20th. According to Brazil’s National Meteorology Institute (Inmet), “the minimum temperature in Minas Gerais was -1.2 Celsius (29 Fahrenheit).” 

This freezing temperature damaged coffee trees. This may not be the last we see of these extreme conditions, as climate change will drastically impact cultivation in coffee producing regions by 2050.  

Coffee supply chains have faced difficulties, because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With lockdowns put in place throughout the past two years, there has been a decline in vessels and shipping containers, which has caused increased shipping costs and shipment delays. 

(Workers load bags of coffee beans for export onto a container in Santos, Brazil,  Image Source: Paulo Whitaker/Reuters) 

With all of  these factors, a global coffee shortage may be on the brink. Back in September of 2021, ABC reported that, “importers warned of a shortage that could last three years”. Coffee lovers can also expect prices hikes. Coffee retailer Starbucks has said that, “they are planning to hike its prices this year.” This was its third increase since October.

This shortage doesn’t only affect the economy, coffee lovers, and major food retailers. Small business owners are also expected to be impacted as well. These  businesses struggle to gain access to grants and loans that the bigger companies do. 

The future for coffee remains uncertain so for now, coffee lovers should savor every sip. 

Categories: Features

Leave a Reply