The World's Coffee Bean Reserves Are at Their Lowest Since Y2K

Unfavorable growing conditions in Brazil and high shipping costs have put pressure on the industry.

Coffee beans
Photo: Roman Valiev / Getty Images

Next time you sip your morning coffee (or your "I know I shouldn't be drinking caffeine this late but I gotta get through this day" afternoon coffee), maybe take a moment to be thankful you still have coffee at all. Global coffee bean reserves are currently the lowest they've been since Y2K.

According to numbers released Monday by ICE Futures US, a mere 143 million pounds of arabica beans (as opposed to the less coveted robusta beans) are currently held in reserves, the lowest stockpiles the exchange has recorded since February 2000, reports Bloomberg. The business site adds that these dwindling supplies have pushed futures prices for beans per pound to a decade-long high.

The pandemic has thrown supplies of pretty much everything out of whack, but the current coffee situation is most directly tied to Brazil, the world's top coffee producer. The coffee industry was already prepared for bad news with a terrible 2021 crop tied to poor growing conditions, but as shipping prices have continued to spiral out of control, many of Brazil's suppliers are reportedly saving money by simply selling their beans at home.

Still, shipping alone doesn't account for the shortage. Bloomberg reports that Brazil currently accounts for 39 percent of the global inventories monitored by ICE Futures, down from 55 percent last year. "Low stocks at the exchange is one of the bullish factors adding to the coffee rally," Fernando Maximiliano, an analyst at StoneX in Brazil, was quoted as saying.

As a result, don't be surprised if coffee prices continue to push upward over the coming months and year. Just last week, Starbucks announced they'd be raising their prices for the third time since October of 2021. The company primarily blamed the increase on labor issues and inflationary costs and didn't specifically mention bean reserves or Brazil; however, president and CEO Kevin Johnson did say, "We anticipate supply chain disruptions will continue for the foreseeable future."

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