Jeffrey T. Lewis
SAO PAULO - Brazilian crop agency Conab's forecast for the country's 2021 crop of the arabica variety of coffee is too optimistic because the lack of rain and high temperatures last year will have a bigger impact than the agency estimates, according to an official from the Brazilian Association of Coffee Growers.
An informal consensus among some of the group's members, including growers and agronomists, is that the arabica crop for this year will be less than half of 2020's production of 48.8 million 132-pound bags, below Conab's forecast for 29.7 million to 33 million bags, said *Marco Antonio Jacob*, the association's director.
"We're praying it will reach half of 2020's crop, but we think it will be less," he said.
Brazil is the world's biggest producer and exporter of coffee, growing about one-third of total world production. It's the biggest grower of arabica coffee and the second-biggest producer of robusta, after Vietnam.
Conab said Thursday in its first coffee report for 2021 that arabica production will decline between 32.4% and 39.1% from 2020 because of Brazil's normal two-year cycle of larger crops in even-numbered years and smaller crops in odd-numbered years, plus the impact of the bad weather.
Several coffee-growing states, especially Minas Gerais, suffered from scant and irregular rain and high temperatures from April through November of last year, impacting the plants' development for this season, Conab said.
But members of the coffee growers association in all of Brazil's most important coffee-producing regions have said they foresee bigger declines in their production for this year, *Mr. Jacob* said. The association has about 6,000 members, though a much smaller group participated in the informal survey, he said.
It is still too early for Conab or any other group to produce a reliable forecast for the 2021 crop, and more accurate numbers will only start coming out in February or March, according to *Mr. Jacob* and officials from other coffee industry groups. Conab publishes its next coffee report in May.
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