- As prices for robusta beans fall, Vietnamese coffee farmers have been hoarding their stockpiles while waiting for prices to recover.
- In the meantime, Brazilian conilon beans have taken their place as a source for many instant coffee producers. The weak real has made it attractive for Brazilian farmers to sell rather than hoard their stockpiles.
- However, the conilon beans have a marked difference in taste from the robusta beans, with a milder flavor that some describe as "more earthy and a little rubbery," according to The Wall Street Journal.
Estimates for how much coffee is being hoarded in Vietnam have ranged from 150,000 to upwards of 500,000 tons, coffee traders told The Wall Street Journal. Vietnam, which is the global leader for robusta production, saw its coffee exports drop 22% in the 2014-15 crop year, which ended Sept. 30.
As a result, Vietnamese robusta "is selling at a premium of more than $100 a ton plus shipping costs over the equivalent spot price for Brazilian conilon," Carlos Mera, a Rabobank analyst, told The Wall Street Journal.
Weather conditions are another concern for coffee traders this year.
"[Weather] is always a key factor for agricultural commodity markets, but with the El Niño weather pattern already affecting conditions, the concern is higher than normal. El Niño is already causing drier conditions in Vietnam and Indonesia, as well as in South America, which could harm crops and lead to dwindling supplies," according to The Wall Street Journal.