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coffee chiapas A coffee plant in Chiapas affected by roya. Rogers Family Company

Starbucks coffee buyer optimistic about 2014-2015 crop

Coffee production is expected to be way down this year, but a Starbucks coffee buyer expects output to rise 10% in the 2014/2015 harvesting season.

For the current year, Mexico’s national coffee association, AMECAFE, expects the crop to be down by 40% due to the damage caused by the fungus roya, or coffee leaf rust. It has forecast production of 3.1 million 60-kg bags.

The largest drop in output was being expected in Chiapas, the principal coffee-growing area of Mexico. Last fall the country’s coffee industry association said as many as 100,000 hectares of the total planted land in Chiapas are dotted with the yellow-orange spores of roya.

Coffee-producing countries in Central America are also affected by the disease.

But a regional coffee buyer expects the region, whose coffee variety is primarily arabaica, to begin to recover from the fungus outbreak. “A very conservative (estimate) is 10% more production in Mexico and Central America next season,” said Alfredo Nuno, a green coffee buyer for Starbucks.

A 10% increase would see total production of 17.6 million bags. The hardest-hit areas are at lower altitudes, noted Nuno, whose coffee doesn’t meet Starbucks’ standards.

He said his visits to the region, which produces more than a fifth of the world’s arabaica coffee, have been encouraging and that the situation is not as bad as last year.

Reuters, Business Recorder

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