South Africa | World's biggest coffee exporter could see 2021 harvest shrink by a third

Brazil, the world's biggest coffee producer and exporter, could see its 2021 harvest shrink by as much as a third this year, mainly due to drought, the Conab agricultural statistics agency said Thursday.

The harvest will be between 21.4 percent and 30.5 percent lower than in 2020; a record year with 63 million 60-kilogramme (132-pound) bags produced, the agency said in its first report for the year.

For 2021, production was likely to be between 43.9 million and 49.6 million bags.

The arabica coffee plant, from which Brazil derives 77 percent of the coffee it produces, grows in alternating seasons of high and low yield.

2020 was a high-yield year, and 2019 was a good season for a low-yield year with 49.3 million bags.

The Conab said the current low-yield season has already had "negative physiological effects" on plants in producing regions, worsened by "adverse climatic conditions." Parts of the country suffered severe drought and heatwaves last year.

For arabica beans alone, Brazilian production could decline by as much as 39.1% from last year, said Conab.

But robusta coffee, less affected by the biennial plant cycle, production may actually increase, said the report.

Earlier this month, the world's largest producer of arabica coffee, Colombia, said it had exported 1.2 million fewer 60-kg bags in 2020, mainly due to travel restrictions necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.

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