Asia Coffee-Few takers for large bean variety; rains hit Sumatra

Fri Nov 23, 2012 3:44am EST

* Indonesia's ELB beans cheaper than 80 defects

* Vietnam robusta at $30 to $70 discounts

By Lewa Pardomuan

SINGAPORE, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Prices of higher-quality Indonesian robustas were unchanged this week after ample supply prompted roasters to stay on the sidelines, but the commonly-traded beans fetched high premiums with the new harvest still months away, dealers said on Friday.

In top robusta producer Vietnam, beans stayed at discounts to London futures for nearby shipments, attracting a bit of interest from foreign roasters. The crop harvest in Vietnam may finish as early as next month after the rainy season ended sooner than usual.

"I would say the Vietnamese beans are at $30 to $40 discounts because the London market has gone lower. But the buying interest is more like at $60 to $70 under London," said a dealer in Singapore.

"European roasters are still chasing Vietnamese beans. The crop is progressing and everything runs smoothly."

Last week, Vietnam grade 2, 5 percent black and broken beans stood at discounts of $50 to $60 below London's January contract. Vietnam harvested a record crop of about 1.6 million tonnes in the recently ended 2011/2012 season on higher yields and as new areas became productive.

In Indonesia's main growing island of Sumatra, the Extra Large Bean variety was quoted at $90 above London futures, unchanged from last week, and cheaper than the widely-traded but lower quality grade 4, 80 defect robustas.

"Indonesian beans are generally expensive. The Extra Large Beans were recently sold at $90 premiums for January-February delivery against the March contract. But local exporters are still offering the beans at plus $200," said a dealer in Sumatra.

"There's a shortage in lower grade supply. This time, the crop has produced more bigger beans and the stock is also plenty. That's why people are not buying them."

Sumatran grade 4, 80 defect beans were quoted at premiums of $100 a tonne to London's January contract, unchanged from last week.

The extended harvest has ended in Sumatra and the flowering season has started in several parts of the island. A smaller harvest, or the fly crop, is likely to start as early as next month. The main harvest normally kicks in in April or May.

WEEK AHEAD

Indonesian beans could stay at their current premiums next week, with dealers also closely watching the progress of the flowering season in Sumatra.

"It's been raining heavily in the last two days. The concern is that flowers may fall from the trees if this persists until the end of the year," said the dealer in Sumatra.

"But I have yet to receive reports from plantations about the latest development there."

Heavy rain damaged the crop in the 2011/12 season that ended around August last year, causing a severe supply shortage that drove premiums to record highs at $550.

(Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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