Shipping Update Sourcing

Staying the Course While Staying Agile: Q4 2022

As we enter the final quarter of the year, logistics issues & price volatility persist & staying the course while remaining agile is the name of the game. The story of this particular moment seems to be that even when the C market dips—it’s notably both high & volatile as it’s been all year—local prices, especially for top-tier quality, remain astronomical. Solid relationships & communication, from the farm level to logistics, are key. Read on or click here to listen for more on logistics, market dynamics, & in-country activity at origin. 

Logistics, Port, & Warehouse Updates 

US port delays persist, although partners tell us they’re easing slightly. Meanwhile, other transit capacity issues entrench. 

In NJ & Oakland, partners report facing major trucking capacity limits. Vessels are unloading faster, but incurring demurrage fees because there aren’t enough truck drivers to pick up & transport from port to warehouse. 

Houston & Gulf Coast ports face capacity issues at every pressure point. Vessels are consistently delayed into Houston, then seeing 3-4 day delays for unloading & additional 3-4 days before containers become available for pickup. Scheduling pickups is also challenging because of trucker capacity. Warehouse capacity is a broad issue but Houston is particularly maxed out, facing long queues for loading in & out.

On the bright side, we seem to have averted what would have been a devastating national rail strike. Last week, rail companies & union reps reached a tentative agreement, narrowly avoiding a strike. The agreement still needs to be ratified, but fingers are crossed nationwide that we can collectively dodge that bullet while rail workers get needs met.

Rail strike impacts would be massive. Among other issues, all containers diverted to the Gulf Coast to avoid West Coast port delays would be unable to move to destination warehouses. Houston warehouses are already at capacity & inability to move coffee via rail would stopper current bottlenecks. Driver shortages would increase pressure on trucking lanes to absorb capacity if rail transport halted. Severe delays & price increases would be inevitable. So let’s hope the deal gets ratified & we avert all that & more. 

Globally, ocean freight costs have eased from their Q1/2 2022 peaks. Fuel costs remain high & rates remain well above pre-pandemic levels. We continue to see widespread shipment delays, container shortages at origin, & frequent rolled & canceled bookings. 

Supply, Demand, & The C Market 

A major change over the last year is how the C market affects local market buying conditions. Where the C used to be an immediate change-agent at origin, it’s become a slower, less direct catalyst on price changes. Why? The major factor influencing the C market is quite simply Brazil’s projected supply/demand differentials. On the other hand, local market factors come from supply conditions at a local & global level. For instance, weather events like drought in East Africa & heavy rains in Colombia deplete local supply, driving costs up; meanwhile, shortages in one region or country leave large buyers with shorts they need to cover in another, driving demand & costs up there. 

All of which is to say that the C market is both as impactful & less directly impactful than ever. Whatever the C does or doesn’t do over the next quarter, local price conditions in the origins we focus on aren’t looking to ease anytime soon. 

Now, to C market activity. Earlier in September the C followed the stock market’s lead by dipping down to 210 before reports came out projecting Brazil’s coffee supplies near historic lows, pushing C prices back above the 3 month average (218). Analysts suggest Brazil stockpiles should maintain around 9-12 million bags to keep up with global demand but the nation may dip to 7 million by March. Volatility remains incredibly high with daily traded ranges over 7 cts/lb. This last quarter saw the market slide under 2/lb for the first time this year before rebounding back near 240. At time of writing the market is only trading a few cts above that 3 month average at 221/lb.

As global logistics show no sign of loosening, the entire supply chain suffers persistent effects. Coffee production inputs remain more expensive & harder to find. Gas prices & equipment shortages cause higher costs & delays in producing countries & domestically. Red Fox continuously analyzes freight lanes & weighs costs in order to get coffee from origin to domestic warehouses as quickly & cost effectively as possible. Our intense planning & analysis doesn’t prevent the occasional surprise, as seen by our newly held position in Continental Laredo, TX (DuPuy Houston temporarily stopped accepting new loads), late-season Mexico arrivals, & continued delays at domestic ports (especially from vessel to warehouse). 

Peru 

Prices across Peru remain high with the local market paying as much as 19 soles per kilo (equivalent to $5.00 USD) for clean, dry parchment. Unsurprisingly, producers raced to deliver coffee to local buyers—both cooperative & private—at record pace. The days of reintegro (second payments after shipment) are over. In this competitive buying market, all parchment buyers must pay full price upfront to collect coffee. We estimate Red Fox volumes to be 60% collected/warehoused as of mid-September.

Our QC team is in full swing supervising dry milling & shipment preparation for containers leaving from ports of Lima & Paita. Our first container has landed & we’ll have 12 containers afloat by the time this report is published with another full slate set to leave Peru in October. We’ll continue shipping fresh coffee through year-end if not into January ‘23. 

Parchment competition has been particularly fierce in Cusco this season as supply chain partners have faced challenges from the largest actors—both independent & multinational—in Calca, Incahuasi & the greater Quillabamba region. Cusco continues to be the epicenter of our purchases. We expect more than 75% of our total Peruvian exports to come from Cusco this season. Puno also remains competitively unbridled: despite major overhauls to our internal supply chain schematics we remain strong in terms of our acquisition schedule there. Amazonas remains a stronghold of top quality for Red Fox. We’ve focused our Cajamarca acquisitions on our strongest supply chain partners historically, as well as some new projects in the less-heralded corners of the department.

Available Lots: Inbound shipments will begin stripping into NJ & Houston in October. The Annex will see availability shortly after. We typically expect our warehouses in the US to be flush with high-quality Peruvian coffee well into spring, though pricing dynamics in Colombia lead us to believe that we might find ourselves sold out earlier in 2023. 

Colombia 

Colombia remains the epicenter of the procurement storm in Latin America. All-time highs have been the norm for the past 60+ days as the 1st semester harvest wraps up. We’ve paid 2.8 million Colombian pesos/carga for clean 85+ scoring coffee—more than double the price we paid for 87 point coffee (1.4m ppc) in 2020. This comes from the C market, large players working to cover shorts, & La Niña rainy conditions. 

Consensus from partners is that 1st semester volumes seem around 25% lower than last year in general across Colombia. Forecasts for the imminent main crop suggest that this will be the smallest main crop harvest in well over a decade. Rainfall has also delayed its launch, pushing back the first round of harvesting deeper into October. After our July/August stints in-country we don’t believe in potential for a dip in differentials regardless of any downward trends in NY that may or may not be on the horizon. 

From our supply chain partner, Frederic Boppe in Popayan: The main factor influencing the differential is the expected production of the main crop. Only a shift in the trend due to a better mid-crop flowering could lead to see softer diffs in the first half of 2023. On a mid-term perspective, Colombian production could get back to figures around 15 million with favorable weather.”

From our friend Johann Penna at Asorcafe in Inzá on 9/17: “The local price is still hovering around 2.6m ppc. Rains persist. We expect to receive parchment from the higher altitudes starting in October & through the end of the year.”  

Traffic & congestion at all 3 ports—Buenaventura, Cartagena & Santa Martaremain similar. Lack of containers remains problematic. Vessel cancellation from shipping lines remains high due to delays. Freight rates continue to increase. Spot rates are the only means of booking vessels. Internal freight rates have also increased dramatically. 

Available Lots: Our first shipments of Inzá, Tablon as well as decaf from Huila are now officially on the water. We’ll have 2 follow up containers go afloat 2nd half October.

Ethiopia 

The war in Tigray has resumed as of August 24th, along with accusations from the TPLF of the Ethiopian military of working in alliance with the Eritrean military in their attacks against the region. The security situation across the country has suffered in its wake. Wollega, a coffee producing area west of Jimma, Agaro, has seen some of the heaviest civil unrest yet. 

Along with political unrest comes critical weather issues: some of the worst drought that Ethiopia has seen in decades followed by record flooding. Coupled with the Ukraine War the World Health Organization warns of a dire food crisis imminent in the country.

As Ethiopia prepares for the advancing coffee harvest, reports out of producing areas indicate cherry ripening though baseline pricing for early crop won’t be set for at least a few more weeks.

From Asnake at Kata Muduga Union: “The real situations in Agaro & Jimma areas completely different from Wollega, peaceful, stable, we are working our daily activities without any problems. The cooperatives now on pre-season activities like business preparation, machine maintenance, dry bed preparation, training farmers for upcoming harvest and conducting annual meetings.”

After “balanced” rainfall through the maturation process Kata Muduga expects an uptick in terms of both volume and quality from the coming season.  

Available Lots: All 3 coasts are flush with top Guji G1 natural processed coffee, Agaro G1 washed, & competitively priced G2 washed lots from Guji & Sidamo. 

Mexico 

Despite export delays on final Mexico shipments of the season, all of our coffee is now either at or soon to reach its destination. 

The big story of the off-season, particularly from Oaxaca, has been continued tropical storms coming off of the Pacific coast in Hurricane Agatha’s wake that struck at the end of May. Reports coming out of the Sierra Sur suggest that over 35,000 hectares of coffee plantations are lost or severely damaged due to heavy rainfall & landslides. Tropical Storm Lester is currently pummeling the coast with more rainfall causing road closures & power outages in coastal mountain communities. Add to that a 7.7 magnitude earthquake that stuck on the anniversary of other severe quakes on the same date of September 19th. So far not much damage has been reported as a result of the earthquake. 

One producer in San Juan Ozolotepec told us: “We have had several losses in the coffee plants, equipment, and irrigation lines. We are still working to restore what can be saved, but there have been lots of landslides.”

Available Lots: We’ve got a variety of top-tier Mexico lots from Chiapas, Oaxaca, & Veracruz on all 3 coasts, including a newly arrived decaf lot on the East Coast. 

Rwanda 

The 2022 Rwanda harvest is complete: it’s currently the height of shipping season. Fresh crop lots are being milled & prepared for export after a season of high volume & record-high prices. Landlocked Rwanda continues to experience logistical challenges, in particular a scarcity of food-grade containers for export, slowing down movement of coffee from Kigali to port in Mombasa. Our Kanzu lots are en route to port now & projected to go afloat in early October. Quality is excellent this year & the classic Kanzu profile is on full display in these outturns.

Available Lots: We have two containers of fresh Kanzu lots currently headed to Continental NJ. We will plan to move spot volume to CA once those lots clear customs in NJ. Preship samples are available for customers interested in securing volume now. We expect lots to be available November/December in NJ & December in CA.

Kenya

The biggest news out of Kenya at the moment is the presidential election results: William Ruto narrowly defeated opponent Raila Odinga in August. 

The fly crop has concluded for the year with final auctions in October. As we look ahead to the pending main crop, severe drought remains the primary concern. Most news outlets are citing it as the worst drought in the past 40 years with as many as 4 million Kenyans affected. Recent rains in the Mount Kenya highlands have given some resilience to the main crop as it enters its final stage of maturation. That said, bean size is expected to be on the smaller side without any significant rainfall in the next 30-60 days. We hope to have a confident update on quality by our Q1 2023 Update.

The Port of Mombasa is now operating closer to normal standards: a sight for sore eyes in the ongoing global shipping crisis. 

Available Lots: Red Fox Kenya stocks are under 100 bags in NJ. First shipments of fresh main crop lots will occur over the course of Q1 2023.

Guatemala 

Harvested area in Guatemala is down due to higher production costs for both agricultural inputs & labor. Production costs rose 32% as fertilizer prices continue doubling & lack of migration negatively impacts labor availability. Production in 2022/2023 is forecast to fall 17% & consumption for 2022/2023 is revised up to 624,000 60kg bags.

From one of our trade partners: “Harvest is looking really nice for the upcoming year. We are at almost double the rainfall of last year. Lack of labor is still a huge issue we are expecting come harvest time, but everything else looks really good.”

Available Lots: San Jose Poaquil from the Chimaltenango region & Los Arroyos from Huehuetenango are available in both TX & CA. 

 
Interested in sourcing coffee with us? Reach out at info@redfoxcoffeemerchants.comTo learn more about our work, check out our journal and follow us on Instagram @redfoxcoffeemerchants, Twitter @redfoxcoffeeSpotify, and YouTube.

 

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