LIMA Oct 31 The world's top organic coffee
exporter, Peru, says its shipments have fallen sharply this year
on weaker global demand, while production problems at home have
shrunk its harvest.
Coffee exports from the Andean nation in 2012 will drop 37
percent over last year to just $1 billion, as the price of
coffee has fallen and orders have scaled back, the minister of
agriculture told Reuters.
Peru's coffee harvest will shrink by a quarter from last
year's bumper crop to yield just 5.5 million 45-kilogram bags
this year. The smaller-than-expected harvest follows 2011's
output of 7.2 million bags.
Agriculture Minister Milton von Hesse said old, low-yielding
coffee plantations and a lack of technical know-how are hurting
production in Peru. It ranks in the top 10 of global growers and
has carved out a niche in organic coffees, but lags far behind
bigger producers like Brazil and Colombia.
Unusually wet weather and a plant disease spreading through
the region's plantations have hurt the Peruvian harvest, said
Lorenzo Castillo, the general manager of the National Coffee
The agriculture ministry said coffee growers should be using
more fertilizers to ward off disease.
"A plant that isn't fertilized is like a child that doesn't
eat," said von Hesse. "It lacks nutrients and is more sensitive
Von Hesse said the coffee industry also struggles to compete
for workers with the illegal coca trade thriving in the same
hilly rainforest region that is ideal for coffee growing.
Coffee companies say workers who pick coffee usually earn
between 35 and 40 soles a day ($13-$15) while an illegal coca
plantation pays up to 100 soles ($38).
The government and growers expect production to rebound next
year, expanding 20 percent because of fertilization programs and
plantation renovations in progress now.
"Hopefully the price of coffee in international markets also
improves," Van Hessen said.