Coffee Market Sees Turbulent May as ICO Reports Price Fluctuations and Export Volumes

The International Coffee Organization (ICO) released its Coffee Market Report for May 2024, revealing a month marked by significant price fluctuations, increased market volatility, and notable shifts in export volumes across various coffee-producing regions. The comprehensive report sheds light on the current dynamics of the global coffee market, influenced by weather conditions, production concerns, and currency fluctuations.

Price Trends and Volatility

The ICO Composite Indicator Price (I-CIP) for May 2024 averaged 208.38 US cents per pound, reflecting a 3.9% decrease from April 2024. Despite this decline, the I-CIP remains 18.7% higher than the same period last year, underscoring the continued high value of coffee amidst ongoing market uncertainties. The I-CIP fluctuated between 195.13 and 230.61 US cents per pound throughout May, with a median value of 204.11 US cents per pound.

The report attributes the price fluctuations to several factors, including weather conditions in key coffee-producing countries. Early in the month, prices retracted by 10.3%, driven by news of rainfall in Vietnam, alleviating fears of drought and potential damage to the 2024/25 crop. Similarly, favorable weather conditions in Brazil supported smooth harvesting and drying operations, reducing pressure on Brazilian Naturals’ differentials. However, from mid-May onwards, renewed uncertainties over the supply of the 2024/25 crop in Central America and major producers like Brazil and Vietnam caused the I-CIP to climb back up to 220.67 US cents per pound.

Market volatility also saw a notable increase in May. The intra-day volatility of the I-CIP rose by 4.3 percentage points to 12.3%, indicating heightened market sensitivity to changing conditions. Robustas exhibited the highest volatility among coffee groups, reaching an average of 14.3%, while the London and New York futures markets also experienced significant volatility increases.

Export Volumes and Regional Dynamics

Global green bean exports in April 2024 totaled 10.77 million bags, marking a 15.3% increase compared to April 2023. The Brazilian Naturals and Robustas were the primary drivers of this growth, with exports rising by 44.9% and 13.4%, respectively. Conversely, shipments of Other Milds decreased by 9.1% to 2.07 million bags.

The report highlights contrasting performances across different regions:

  • Asia & Oceania: Exports decreased by 0.3% to 3.78 million bags. Vietnam, the region’s largest producer, saw a 6.9% decline in exports, contributing to the overall downturn. However, Indonesia’s exports increased by 43.1%, mitigating some of the region’s losses.
  • Africa: Exports surged by 39.4% to 1.37 million bags. Côte d’Ivoire and Ethiopia were the main contributors to this growth, with their exports increasing by 202.5% and 103.6%, respectively.
  • South America: Exports rose by 44.5% to 5.15 million bags, driven by a 54.8% increase in Brazilian exports, which reached a record 4.24 million bags in April 2024.
  • Mexico & Central America: Exports declined by 12.6% to 1.66 million bags. Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua experienced significant decreases, attributed to their biennial production cycles and other local factors such as the bankruptcy of a major coffee exporter in Nicaragua.

Supply and Demand Balance

The report projects global coffee production for the 2023/24 coffee year at 178.0 million bags, a 5.8% increase from the previous year. Arabica production is expected to rise by 8.8% to 102.2 million bags, while Robusta production is projected to increase by 2.1% to 75.8 million bags. In terms of consumption, the ICO estimates a 2.2% increase, bringing global consumption to 177.0 million bags.

The supply and demand dynamics reveal a slight surplus, with production outpacing consumption by 1.0 million bags. This balance suggests that while the market remains robust, there are regional disparities that could affect future trends.

Certified Stocks and Arbitrage

Certified stocks of Arabica coffee on the New York futures market increased by 30.3% to 0.84 million 60-kg bags, while London certified stocks expanded by 24.9% to 0.78 million bags. Despite this increase, stock levels remain below the average of the 2022/23 coffee year.

Arbitrage, measured between the London and New York futures markets, increased by 4.3% to 43.74 US cents per pound in May 2024. This rise reflects the differing market conditions and price movements between the two major coffee trading hubs.


The ICO’s May 2024 Coffee Market Report provides valuable insights into the global coffee market’s current state. The significant price fluctuations, increased market volatility, and shifts in export volumes underscore the complexities and challenges faced by the coffee industry. As weather conditions, production concerns, and currency fluctuations continue to impact the market, stakeholders must remain vigilant and adaptable to navigate these dynamics effectively.

For coffee producers, traders, and consumers, understanding these trends is crucial for making informed decisions and ensuring the sustainability and stability of the global coffee market. The ICO’s comprehensive analysis serves as a critical resource for those looking to stay ahead in this ever-evolving industry.

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