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Vietnam beats Brazil to top global coffee exports in March, say reports

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HANOI, Vietnam – Vietnam exported 2.8 million bags of coffee last month, topping Brazil’s shipments of 2.71 million bags. Vietnam exported 168,000 tons, or 2.8 million bags, of coffee last month, beating the world’s biggest producer Brazil to become the world’s largest exporter of the commodity for the second time in a year, based on industry reports.

The March outflow from Vietnam, already the world’s largest producer of the robusta variety that’s used mainly for making instant coffee, fell nearly 7 percent from the same month in 2016, Vietnam Customs data showed. However, it was the highest shipment Vietnam has loaded on a monthly basis since April 2016.

Meanwhile, Brazil exported 2.71 million bags of coffee in March, including 2.32 million bags of arabica, 20,626 bags of conillon – a robusta variety – and 343,278 bags of instant coffee, based on data from the Brazilian Coffee Exporters Council. One bag weighs 60 kilograms.

Brazil is dealing with a domestic coffee shortfall due to a smaller robusta crop, and at one stage in February had planned to import the commodity, probably from Vietnam.

While higher yield could raise the country’s arabica output in the 2016/2017 crop to a record 45.6 million bags, robusta production could drop to a 10-year low of 10.5 million bags “due to above-average temperatures and prolonged dry spells in the main growing region,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

Vietnam also briefly seized the crown as the world’s largest coffee exporter in April last year, a ranking it managed to hold through July 2016, based on monthly customs data and the Brazilian council.

The March 2017 shipment brought Vietnam’s total coffee exports to 834,100 tons for the first half of the 2016/2017 crop year, up 2 percent from a year ago and the highest volume in three crop years, based on Vietnam Customs data released on Monday.

Vietnam’s coffee crop year lasts between October and September.

Traders in Vietnam said the country’s faster export pace in the current season was due to stockpiling by international trading firms and roasters due to an anticipated smaller harvest this year in export rival Indonesia and falling shipments in recent months from Brazil.

The faster shipping pace and dwindling domestic stocks could prompt Vietnam to face a shortage in May-June, top exporter Intimex said last month.

Ho Binh Minh