Vietnam, the largest producer of Robusta beans, has been devastated by harvest rains, damaging roughly 15% of its crop. The harvest, completed in December 2008, yielded large quantities of black beans, which do not meet international standards and are usually thrown out. The Vietnam Coffee and Cocoa Association estimates that the bad bean count is nearly double that of previous harvests. This bad news has many experts forecasting a decline in Robusta futures.
Coffee is the second most-traded commodity on Earth, with petroleum holding the #1 spot. And, while most people may not equate Vietnam with coffee, the country has become one of the largest coffee exporters in the world—with Robusta being the main variety being cultivated. Due to its rising stature among the world's coffee exporters, Vietnam took a lot of heat, at the beginning of the 21st century, from some South American and African nations accusing the country of over-saturating the globalmarket, thus effectively driving down trading prices.
The unfortunate damage caused by the harvest rain, another bump in the road for Vietnam's growing exporting business, is sure to cause a lot of hardship for local farmers whose livelihood depend of getting a good price for their crops. As for the rest of the world, it seems unclear how much of an effect the damaged coffee will have on the average consumer. Even though Robusta beans are widely regarded by coffee enthusiasts as inferior to their Arabica cousins, they still surely have their place in many homes across the globe.
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