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Coffee Sep '22 (KCU22)

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Contract Specifications for [[ item.sessionDateDisplayLong ]]
Barchart Symbol KC
Exchange Symbol KC
Contract Coffee C Arabica
Exchange ICE/US
Tick Size 0.05 cents per pound ($18.75 per contract)
Margin/Maintenance $9,900/9,000
Daily Limit None
Contract Size 37,500 pounds (approximately 250 bags)
Months Mar, May, Jul, Sep, Dec (H, K, N, U, Z)
Trading Hours 3:15a.m. - 12:30p.m. (Settles 12:25p.m.) CST
Value of One Futures Unit $375
Value of One Options Unit $375
Last Trading Day Eight business days prior to last business day of delivery month


Coffee is one of the world's most important cash commodities. Coffee is the common name for any type of tree in the genus madder family. It is actually a tropical evergreen shrub that has the potential to grow 100 feet tall. The coffee tree grows in tropical regions between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn in areas with abundant rainfall, year-round warm temperatures averaging about 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and no frost. In the U.S., the only areas that produce any significant amount of coffee are Puerto Rico and Hawaii. The coffee plant will produce its first full crop of beans at about five years old and then be productive for about 15 years. The average coffee tree produces enough beans to make about 1 to 1 ½ pounds of roasted coffee per year. It takes approximately 4,000 handpicked green coffee beans to make a pound of coffee. Wine was the first drink made from the coffee tree using the coffee cherries, honey, and water. In the 17th century, the first coffee house, also known as a "penny university" because of the price per cup, opened in London. The London Stock Exchange grew from one of these first coffee houses.

Coffee is generally classified into two types of beans: arabica and robusta. The most widely produced coffee is arabica, which makes up about 70 percent of total production. It grows mostly at high altitudes of 600 to 2,000 meters, with Brazil and Colombia being the largest producers. Arabic coffee is traded at the ICE Futures U.S. exchange. The stronger of the two types is robusta. It is grown at lower altitudes with the largest producers being Indonesia, West Africa, Brazil, and Vietnam. Robusta coffee is traded on the ICE Futures Europe exchange.

Ninety percent of the world coffee trade is in green (unroasted) coffee beans. Seasonal factors have a significant influence on the price of coffee. There is no extreme peak in world production at any one time of the year, although coffee consumption declines by 12 percent or more below the year's average in the warm summer months. Therefore, coffee imports and roasts both tend to decline in spring and summer and pick up again in fall and winter.

Very low prices for coffee can create serious long-term problems for coffee producers. When prices fall below the costs of production, there is little economic incentive to produce coffee, and coffee trees may be neglected or completely abandoned. When prices are low, producers cannot afford to hire the labor needed to maintain the trees and pick the crop at harvest. The result is that trees yield less due to reduced use of fertilizer and fewer employed coffee workers. One effect is a decline in the quality of the coffee that is produced. Higher quality Arabica coffee is often produced at higher altitudes, which entails higher costs. It is this coffee that is often abandoned. Although the pressure on producers can be severe, the market eventually comes back into balance as supply declines in response to low prices.

Coffee prices are subject to upward spikes in June, July, and August due to possible freeze scares in Brazil during the winter months in the Southern Hemisphere. The Brazilian coffee crop is harvested starting in May and extending for several weeks into what are the winter months in Brazil. A major freeze in Brazil occurs roughly every five years on average.

Coffee futures and options are traded at the ICE Futures U.S. and ICE Futures Europe exchanges, and the B3 Exchange (formerly BM&F/BOVESPA). Coffee futures are traded on the JSE Securities Exchange (JSE).

Prices - ICE Arabica coffee futures prices ( symbol KC) were under pressure in Q1-2019 and fell to a 15-1/4 year low of 86.35 cents per pound in April 2019. Robust supplies undercut arabica coffee prices as data from the International Coffee Organization (ICO) showed that global 2018 arabica coffee exports climbed +4.3% yr/yr to 78.63 million bags. Also, ICO forecasted a global 2018/19 coffee surplus of +4.96 million bags, increasing from a +2.05 million bag surplus in 2017/18. Conab, the Brazilian government's forecasting agency, said it expected Brazil's 2019 coffee crop would climb to 50.9 million bags, the highest ever seen for a lower-yielding half of a two-year cycle. Weakness in the Brazilian real throughout 2019 further encouraged export selling by Brazil's coffee producers as the real slid to new record lows against the dollar. Brazil coffee researcher Cepea projected Brazil 2018/19 coffee exports would jump to a record 40 million bags on persistent weakness in the Brazilian real. Coffee prices recovered into Q3-2019 as adverse weather in Brazil curbed coffee yields. In September 2019, Conab cut its Brazil 2019 coffee crop forecast to 49 million bags from a prior forecast of 50.9 million bags. Coffee prices then rallied into year-end after ICO in November 2019 projected a global 2019/20 coffee deficit of -502,000 bags, compared with a downwardly revised surplus of +3.7 million bags for 2018/19. Supplies tightened after ICE-monitored arabica coffee inventories fell from a 5-1/2 yr high of 2.502 million bags in March to a 1-1/2 year low of 2.022 million bags in December. Prices finished 2019 up +27.3% yr/yr at 129.70 cents per pound.

Supply - World coffee production in the 2019/20 marketing year (July-June) is expected to fall -3.1% yr/yr to 169.130 million bags (1 bag equals 60 kilograms or 132.3 pounds) after rising by +10.0% yr/yr to a new record high of 174.500 million bags in 2018/19. Coffee ending stocks in the 2019/20 marketing year are expected to fall -7.7% yr/yr to 33.545 million bags after the +17.1% surge seen in 2018/19 to 36.348 million bags. Brazil is the world's largest coffee producer by far, followed by Vietnam.

Demand - U.S. coffee consumption in 2019 rose +7.3% yr/yr to 29.211 million bags, a new record high.

Trade - World coffee exports in 2019/20 are forecasted to fall -0.8% yr/yr to 136.777 million bags, down from last year's record high of 137.924. The world's largest exporters of coffee in 2018/19 were Brazil with 25.6% of world exports, Vietnam with 20.4%, and Columbia with 9.6%. U.S. coffee imports in 2019 rose +7.3% yr/yr to 29.211 million bags, a new record high. The key countries from which the U.S. imported coffee in 2019 were Brazil with 27.3% of U.S. imports, Columbia with 20.4%, Guatemala with 4.8%, and Mexico with 4.5%.

Information on commodities is courtesy of the CRB Yearbook, the single most comprehensive source of commodity and futures market information available. Its sources - reports from governments, private industries, and trade and industrial associations - are authoritative, and its historical scope for commodities information is second to none. The CRB Yearbook is part of the Barchart product line. Please visit us for all of your commodity data needs.

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