The coffee industry endured another hectic siege this past week, but there are some indications that the market - and prices - may soon settle down.
The Brazilian Coffee Institute (IBC) increased its estimate of Brazil's 1977-78 crop for the second time to well over 15 million bags. A higher Brazilian harvest will take some pressure off prices and give the companies that roast the gree beans imported into this country better access to supplies.
At the same time, a move by the IBC last week to change the system of buying coffee from its farmers briefly caused chaos in the Rio de Janeiro market as exporters balked at paying farmers higher prices. Late Wednesday, their anger grew as the government increased the export tax on coffee beans again.
The latest tax jump, however, boosted the export price of a 132-pound bag of unroasted beans above the domestic price. The tax is now $156 per sack or $3 above the world price for immediate shipment of $153.31. Producers said the price they now receive, minus taxes, is $115.47.
"The situation cannot persist," said Salvio de Almeida Prado, president of the Brazilian Rural Society. "If we cannot firm the price here (in Rio), we will not be able to sustain it."
Meanwhile, the board of the New York Coffee and Sugar Exchange voted to continue their limited acceptance of certain growths of coffee for delivery against contracts traded on there.
The move followed concern over a possible "squeeze" or pressure on prices as the July contract was due to expire with more than 200,000 contracts still open.
new York coffee traders are uncertain about the destinatiion of coffee delivered against the soon-to-expire July contract, but most feel that Latin American producing nations either hold the positions themselves through agents or have authorized U.S. trade houses to take delivery of the coffee for them.
Sources among exchange floor brokers suggested that much of the July coffee will be shipped out of New York, as was the fate of a sizeable quantity of May contract coffee delivered through the exchange.
Producer countries might take delivery of actual coffee, sources reason, to keep declining coffee futures prices from falling as far as physicals. The spot July coffee on the New York coffee exchange closed at $2.65 Wednesday, about 20 cents per pound higher than physical coffee is being sold in other parts of the U.S.P. In the four days since July delivery notices were first issued, 178 have been issued and more than two thirds of those have been stopped - that is delivery has been accepted - by ACLI commodity services and Anderson Clayton Trading Company, trade sources indicate. Both firms are known to do business for large Latin American accounts.
The exchange's "emergency action," which was recommended by its control committee and took effect Wednesday morning, limits trading in the July coffee "C" contract to long liquidation, short covering or new selling only if the seller can show proof of his ability to deliver actual coffee.
Certified stocks in New York warehouses total about 90,000 bags, or approximately half the amount of the open interest in the July contract. However, coffee is reportedly being shipped to New York from Texas and from origin countries.
An exchange spokesman explained that the board of managers is "concerned" about the September contract, in which long positions are said to be in the same hands as those of July, although not in the same concentration.