Exports of green coffee from Brazil, the world’s largest producer, fell 27% in August from a year earlier to 2.33 million 60-kilogram bags due to difficulties finding containers and space on ships, exporters’ association Cecafe said Monday.
Cecafe said in a monthly report that around 3.5 million bags of coffee could not be shipped on time this year due to transportation obstacles, causing losses of around $500 million to the country’s coffee exporting industry.
The amount of coffee shipped by Brazilian exporters in August was the lowest monthly volume in at least a year.
“This operational crisis caused a large increase in freight rates, recurrent cancellations of bookings and greater difficulty in making new bookings of containers or space on vessels,” said Nicolas Rueda, president of Cecafe.
The association said 40% to 50% of all coffee cargoes faced postponements at ports in the last three months, compared with 10% to 20% seen earlier in the year as the situation deteriorated.
Brazil accounts for nearly 40% of world coffee trade. Delays could disrupt the operations of some roasters in the United States and Europe, its largest customers.
Supply chain breakdowns and shortages have swept the world in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, amid a surge in Internet orders and disruptions in the transportation system as workers fell ill or decided to walk off the job. There are shortages of everything.
Containers have been most in demand in destinations such as the United States, and have been staying there longer than normal, causing shortages on routes such as South America to the United States or Asia to Europe.
Datamar, a maritime information agency, said Monday that Brazil received 604 container ships in August, down 10% from the same month a year ago.
“There is a lot of demand (for shipping) and the infrastructure is slow to react. Ports are at the limit of their capacities,” Rueda said.