STiR coffee and tea magazine

Volume 3, Number 1

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Page 21 of 75

22 STiR tea & coffee industry international La Roya unnerves specialty buyers who must now account for unreliable volume and what many buyers hope is a temporary decline in quality as they negotiate to purchase Central American coffees. raders became alarmed when word spread that coffee leaf rust, or CLR, had reached crisis levels in Central America. Many feared severe shortfalls in the 2013/14 harvest season. Jorge Cuevas, director of trade at Sustainable Harvest in Portland, Ore., reported, "Many buyers started to book coffee ahead of time. They didn't want to be cut out. Even before summertime, people booked as far as 12 months out." Volumes are no longer expected to fall as low as earlier projections suggested. Still, "la roya" or "rust" in Spanish was the major focus of concern at coffee conferences and tradeshows this fall. Experts presented findings about the extent and intensity of infection, gave updates on emergency aid, and proposed long-term projects to prevent another such crisis even as recovery from this one gets underway. The degree to which roya impacts flavor varies from one locality to another, often taking buyers by surprise. Even with CLR held at acceptable levels in many areas, cup quality is suffering. Many farmers cannot afford to buy the fertilizer and fungicide needed to get their crop to ripen properly. Rust was not the only much-discussed subject, however. Presenters and attendees alike talked about the continuing decline of commodity prices for coffee. Many wor- ried how this would influence buyers' strategies this harvest season in Central America. Coffee prices fell 29% in 2013 and are down 49% compared to 2011. With the ICO composite indicator price near all-time low levels in November, roya-affected farmers are in the undesirable position of selling below the cost of production. Coping with Rust Jorge Cuevas, director of trade at Sustainable Harvest Infected leaves, El Mirador/Costa Rica Anne Costello, director of coffee at Peace Coffee in Minneapolis, Minn. Podium and coffee rust photos Courtesy of Mike Russell at T By Jenny Neill

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