Coffee Leaf Rust Update

There has been lots of news and talk about the issues currently being faced by many in the coffee growing regions of Central and South America. These issues are already having an impact on the cost of coffee as all of the major retail brands have already raised prices along with major users such as Starbucks etc. In an effort to keep our customers informed and to explain more thoroughly what is causing this spike in prices we have put together some information that may help explain the recent coffee market increases. Coffee is the 2nd highest traded commodity in the world just behind oil. These issues affect all of us but be assured we are diligently working from previously contracted coffees as well as closely monitoring the situation so as to minimize any impact these issues have on our customers. Feel free to call us or speak with your route sales representative if you have further questions.

Coffee leaf rust is an epidemic that has been spreading throughout coffee plants for the last two years. The leaf rust, which is actually a fungus, creates yellow spots on the leaves of the coffee plant and looks like burn marks. Enough of this rust and the plant withers and dies. According to the International Coffee Organization, “The current epidemic of coffee leaf rust affecting all countries of the region with a 53% incidence is the worst seen since this pest appeared in Central America in 1976”. Very few farmers are getting out of this mess unscathed. Since the last time the rust appeared it has grown to be more resistant to altitude, which in the past was a saving grace for farmers with high altitude coffee crops.
Adding fuel to this fire unfortunately is that in January and February (which is the rainy season) the weather in Brazil was the driest in decades. Brazil, the world’s largest coffee producer (producing 1/3rd of the world’s coffee, and 1/2 of the world’s Arabica coffee), is now suffering from a massive drought that is slowly killing their coffee plants.

As always, thank you for your business.

Brian Kilgore
Owner – Eastern Shore Coffee & Water