Indian coffee exports are off to a good start in calendar 2016, at least in volume terms, though realisations of the exporters have taken a hit on account of bearish global prices of the commodity, despite a weakening currency in the recent months.

Data from the Coffee Board reveals that exports of green beans have risen by a fourth from January 1 till February 19 at 30,100 tonnes against 23,930 tonnes in the corresponding period last year.

Including the coffee imported for re-exports, the total shipments were up 23 per cent at 44,114 tonnes (35,739 tonnes).

Currency factor But exporters are not happy with the surge in volumes as buyers, of late, are insisting on renegotiation of contracts after the recent depreciation of rupee against the dollar.

“It is a kind of double whammy for us. While our realisations are already under pressure due to volatile prices, the buyers are insisting on renegotiating the deals. They want some benefit of the currency depreciation to be passed on to them,” said Ashok Kurian, Managing Director of Balanoor Plantations, a producer and exporter of specialty coffees.

The rupee has depreciated by about five per cent against the dollar since early November last year till date.

Also, the sharp depreciation in currencies of top two coffee producers – Brazil and Vietnam – against the dollar has posed major challenge for the Indian exporters, Kurian said.

Meanwhile, the harvest of arabicas is complete whereas the ongoing picking of robusta beans is almost over in about three fourth of the acreage. Exporters and traders are seen actively buying coffees from growers.

Selling pressure Despite lower prices, when compared to last year’s levels, growers are seen selling their produce as a higher output this year has offset the lower realisations to an extent.

Having burnt their fingers by holding on to their produce last year, when prices turned volatile, growers are seen selling off their coffees as and when their produce is ready to sell.

“The growers are selling more coffee this year than they did last year,” said N Bose Mandanna, a large grower in Coorg.

The farmgate price of robusta cherry has not gone beyond ₹2,850 per 50-kg bag this year, while they ruled at around ₹3,000 around this time last year, Mandanna said.

Similarly, prices of the washed robustas are ruling at around ₹6,000 a bag, while they hovered around ₹6,500 last year.

Export prospects bright “So far, the prospects for exports are looking better than last year,” said an official at a multinational trading firm, which has been aggressively buying coffees from growers at the farmgate level. “Growers have been spontaneously selling right from their drying yards,” the official said adding that the godowns of leading exporters are almost full.

The Board has pegged the 2015-16 crop at 3.5 lakh tonnes, a seven per cent increase over the previous season’s 3.27 lakh tonnes.