No boycott seems to be brewing in the Washington area lathough coffee prices continued to percolate higher this week.
A national boycott of sorts was kicked off last month by Elinor Gugginheimer, consumer affairs commissioner of New York City, when she urged consumers not to buy coffee at all the last week of 1976 and to cut coffee consumption by 50 per cent.
At least two major supermarket chains in New York and Boston have encouraged consumers to go along with the boycott and have taken out newspaper advertisement containing coupons for discounts on other beverages, including tea, fruit juices and cocoa.
Although little evidence of a boycott has turned up in the Washington area, food retailers here say coffee sales have declined slightly since prices started to rise in mid-1975 when a frost in Brazil destroyed more than two-thirds of the coffee crop.
Green coffee beans, averaging 63 cents a pound before the frost, now average more than $2 a pound, says a spokesman for General Foods Corp., the nation's largest marketer of coffee. The wholesale price of a pound of General Foods' Maxwell House ground coffee rose to $2.91 on Monday. Procter and Gamble raised its wholesalesprice for its Folger's coffee to $3.08 a pound two weeks ago.
"There's been a slight decline in coffee sales," an official of Safeway Stores here said yesterday. "But the significant thing is that switch from national brand - higher priced - coffee to the house brand. There's a definite trend to lower-cost coffee."
A spokesperson for Grand Union Co. agreed the sale of house brands - 90 cents a pound cheaper than some national brands - was up slightly, but added that there was also a slight increase in the sale of tea. She noted that there was more of a sales decline in the larger-sized containers of coffee.
M. E. Swing, Co., a Washington coffee and tea specialty shop, has slightly lower coffee sales also. "A lot of people are buying half-pounds instead of pounds to cut back a little," an employee said.
Leonard Wnukowski, proprietor of the Georgetown Coffee House, says coffee sales have increased but tea sales have increased even more. "People are continuing to drink coffee but are drinking tea on some occasions instead of coffee."
Although the soaring price is blamed for the recent declines in sales, the National Coffee Association says "cup consumption" of coffee has gone down steadily over th last 15 years. The association blames it on changing lifestyles and an array of new beverages that became available during that time.