Global demand for coffee has increased with more people looking for fuel during lockdown, but the already-tight supply could tighten even further as major coffee exporters Brazil, Colombia and Peru face difficulties in finding farmers to harvest coffee beans.
Growers said the shortage came at a time when inventories have already been depleted due to the rise in demand. Labor shortages are now expected to hamper coffee harvesting in key regions such as Central and South America, where many coffee farms are yet to be mechanized.
“The harvest will start at the end of April, beginning of May, and what we have to be prepared for is the high probability that this confinement is extended beyond the 13th,” said Roberto Velez, the head of Colombia’s growers’ federation.
Roberto Velez, Colombia’s National Federation of Coffee Growers, told Bloomberg that they are working with the government to introduce measures to protect farmers from contracting the virus in fields and create a job bank to direct recently laid-off workers in other sectors into the coffee sector.
Restrictions on traveling and freight transportation have put additional pressure on global supply chains, producers said. Suppliers and intermediaries in Colombia have been experiencing problems reaching coffee farms to collect supply under travel restrictions, Bloomberg reported.
“Roasters and traders are stocking up because they anticipate supply disruption,” said a London-based coffee trader, who said big roasters are buying spot cargoes. “There are some (orders) I can’t fulfill.”