Covid travel restrictions hit Colombian coffee exports

Colombia, the world’s largest producer of Arabica coffee, exported 1.2 million fewer 60-kilogramme (132-pound) bags in 2020, the FNC industry federation said Thursday, blaming travel restrictions necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Exports of green Arabica fell eight percent from 13.7 million bags in 2019 to 12.5 million, it said in a statement.

A federation official told AFP the drop was the result of limitations on movement imposed worldwide to deal with the ever-worsening Covid-19 outbreak.

Production fell too, although the federation said this was within its forecast range, which that takes into account seasonal fluctuation largely influenced by climate conditions. 

“Thanks to implementation of the biosafety protocols developed by the FNC and quick reaction of the coffee growers, it was possible to collect all the coffee crop in 2020 without major issues,” said a federation statement.

“With 1.7 million bags, coffee production grew four percent in December, a monthly volume not recorded in 24 years.”

Coffee is the third biggest export, after oil and mining, of Latin America’s fourth-largest economy.

The value of the 2020 harvest was about nine trillion pesos ($2.6 billion), up 25 percent from 2019. 

Some 540,000 families rely on coffee farming in Colombia. It is the world’s third-largest producer of all coffee after Brazil and Vietnam.