The value of the the total coffee imports and exports continues to decline. Since August 2017, the International Coffee Organization indicator price has declined in each month except January. The price has further decreased by 1.1% in March 2018 to an average of $1.129 USD/lb, which is the lowest monthly price since February 2016.

This is especially apparent in the value of coffee imports to the United States. The decline is further confirmed by data from Descartes Datamyne™, which shows only a modest 2.65% increase in import value in January and February after a 17.36% drop in value since August. Total import value in December dropped to its lowest value since 2016.  The industry is also keeping a close watch on how the popularity of cold brew coffee could boost future profits.

Trends in Coffee Groups

Coffee production overall is estimated to increase. Global production in 2017/18 is estimated at 159.66 million bags, 1.2% higher than 2016/17 with a 12.1% increase in Robusta output offsetting a 4.6% decline in Arabica production.

Colombian Milds

Indicator prices for all coffee groups fell in March 2018, though the largest decrease occurred for Colombian Milds, which fell by 1.4%. This narrowed the price between Colombian Milds and other milds to an average of $0.442 USD/lb, 15.3% lower than last month.

Compared to 2016/17, production of Colombian Milds has fallen by 4.6% to an estimated 15.21 million bags.

Brazilian Naturals and Other Milds

Indicator prices for Brazilian Naturals follow the trend set by Colombian Milds and declined by 0.9% to $0.198 USD/lb with production slowing by 9.6% to an estimated 50.23 million bags.

Other milds have not fared much better, with price indicators also falling 0.9% to $0.135 USD/lb. Production of other milds, however, has increased by 4.3% compared to last year.


Price indicators for the Robusta group have fallen by 1.2% to $0.88 USD/lb. Production, however, continues to increase. Robusta production has risen 11.94% to 62.24 million bags due largely to an increased output from Vietnam.

Production growth has been matched by Robusta exports, which rose by 5.2% to 18.52 million bags in the first five months of coffee year 2017/18. Vietnam’s green Robusta shipments for October 2017 through February 2018 amounted to an estimated 9.64 million bags compared to 9.75 million bags for the same period in the previous season. India’s exports of green Robusta coffee rose by 16.2% to 1.27 million bags with a value increase, according to India’s export declarations, of 8.09%.

Trends in U.S. Imports by Country of Origin




According to U.S. census data, Colombian exports to the United States fell in value by 15.37%.

Colombia is the largest exporter of Coffee [HS 0901] to the United States, with a 23% share of FOB Value. Colombia’s share of the U.S. market has remained consistent since 2016.

Production has also declined. According to data from the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia, the country’s total output for October 2017 through February 2018 reached 6.27 million bags compared to 6.94 million bags for the same period one year ago, a drop of 9.65%.

However, export declarations from Colombia indicate a possible dramatic shift as the country’s harvest period in January comes to a close. According to data from Descartes Datamyne, the FOB value of Colombian exports to the United States have risen 26.87% since January with a 14.59% over the same period last year.


Brazil is the second largest exporter of Coffee [HS 0901] to the United States, with a 19% of FOB value. This share of the U.S. market is a 2% drop compared to the same period in 2016. However, FOB value of Brazilian imports, according to data from Descartes Datamyne, defy the trend of declining import values. Since August, the value of Brazilian imports to the United States has increased by 23.38%.

Rest of the World

Coffee imports from the rest of the world fell by an even more dramatic amount than the trend indicates, due to the increase in value of Brazilian imports. From August to February, the FOB value of coffee imports from countries other than Colombia and Brazil declined 22.63%.

The decline in value is in contrasted by an increase in export volume globally. In February 2018, world coffee exports amounted to 9.93 million bags, up 0.4% compared to February 2017. The volume exported between October 2017 and February 2018 totaled 50.98 million bags as against 49.41 million bags for the same period in 2016/17, an increase of 3.2%.

U.S. Coffee Ports

The top five ports for coffee imports into the United States are Newark, NY; New Orleans, LA; Charleston, SC; Oakland, CA; and Baltimore, MD. Newark remains the primary port of coffee imports, according to data from Descartes Datamyne, despite dropping from 16.5% of total import value in 2016/17 to 12% in 2017/18. The drop is coupled with a 27.2% total drop in import value since August and continuing the downward trend that has seen a 37.98% drop in value since November 2016.

Keeping Pace with Emerging Markets and Current Trends

Descartes offers a wide suite of solutions to assist businesses looking to stay up-to-date on global trends. Coffee market watchers can gather early indications of supply-demand trends, emerging markets, and production shifts.

  • Descartes Datamyne: Our coffee data is rich in descriptive detail. You can narrow your focus or cross-reference your shipment data with product or company profile information. Identify and follow Fair Trade or organic coffee shipments. Get data on soluble and coffee extract shipments. Track the imports of enterprises with sustainability certifications, such as RFA, UTZ, CAFE, 4C, AAA, and Bird Friendly. Ask for a demo.
  • Descartes Datamyne Market Insight™ for the Coffee Industry: This solution provides earlier indicators of supply and demand trends for coffee brokers, traders, buyers, retailers and others looking to stay ahead of the market. Our U.S. import data captures each shipment’s importer, supplier, origin, destination and more while our international data captures players, quantities, volumes and prices (varies depending on country). Data is cleansed, standardized and enhanced with product descriptions including varieties and certification types where available. Ask for a demo.
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