El Salvador coffee exports fall 13%

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By Marco Echevarria

In the 2021-2022 cycle, the value of coffee exports reached $171.47 million, a downward difference of more than $22 million.

El Salvador’s coffee export revenue fell by 13.2% at the end of the 2022-2023 cycle, while production and employment also recorded lows, according to official figures reviewed by EFE.

The newly created report of the Salvadoran Institute of Coffee (ISC) indicates that the export income of the grain amounted to more than $148.86 million between October 2022 and September 2023.

In the 2021-2022 cycle, the value of coffee exports reached $171.47 million, a downward difference of more than $22 million.

The volume of grain exported also decreased in this coffee cycle, from 71,996 quintals to 632,696 today, for a fall of 11.5%, according to official figures.

Coffee production and employment generation also decreased in the 2022-2023 cycle by 4.84% and 4.83%, respectively.

The 2021-2022 harvest production reached 922,040 quintals gold-grass and rose to 877,411 quintals in the 2022-2023 cycle, while employment rose from 46,102 to 43,871.

The main buyers of Salvadoran coffee, whose harvest cycle starts in El Salvador in October and ends in September, are the United States (41%), Germany (8%), Belgium (8%), Italy (7%) and Japan (4%).

Salvadoran coffee farming has been hit by the rocky fungus and the climate crisis, which has led it to record, since the 2013-2014 cycle, its historical minimums of grain production. Coffee is the country’s main export agricultural product.

The impact of the climate
In the last year, crops have been impacted by weather events marked between long periods of drips and sudden periods of heavy rain, a scenario that has made it impossible to obtain the estimates of the harvests expected at the end of the year.

The local coffee sector was in addition to that of basic grains, vegetables and fruits, as well as livestock that in mid-June externalized their concern due to the effects of the arrival of the El Niño phenomenon. This situation affected the flowering of the coffee park because it did not bloom uniformly, especially in places where it rained less, factors such as water stress cause the coffee bean not to grow.

For Amílcar Valladares, a coffee producer, the problems of this crop can be reduced if the nutrition of each plant is properly performed with the quantities of fertilizer and pesticides necessary so that each tree can withstand the changes, as well as be more resistant to the damage by rust; however, variations in the prices of inputs and the reduced profit margin to which the quintal of marketed coffee is bought makes it difficult for producers to have the tools to face these scenarios.

Valladares welcomes the approval of the Law of the Salvadoran Café Institute (ISC), which was dissolved by the Salvadoran Council of the Café, on August 29, 2023, which assumed its assets and liabilities, because this entity could be the way to offer Salvadoran coffee directly with clients abroad without the need for intermediaries and saving time in the procedures, it is expected that this year from year on it will take a different treatment of producers and that opportunities will be opened abroad. Our coffee is a great well-quoted and attractive coffee for shoppers, he added.

Due to the constant losses generated in the crops and the low profitability of the crops many producers have chosen to curb their activities, this situation exposes a new risk because coffee crops depend to a large extent on secondary forests in the country, when coffee plantations are lost, large desert areas would be generated. It is estimated that 11 per cent of the country ' s existing forests are 8 per cent of coffee, and necessary measures must be taken to protect it.

Previously, the authorities pointed out that the ISC will work as a governing body in the formulation and direction of national policy for the coffee sector, providing guidance to Salvadoran producers with the aim of generating economic, educational, social and environmental benefits to the country.

The Institute would be responsible for implementing programmes and projects that promote the participation of producers and technological implementation in crop development.

Producers consider it necessary to open the doors to sell the harvest abroad without talking about quantity but about the quality of the product developed in the territory, such as the bourbon variety.

Price drop per quintal
The Association of Coffee Beneficiaries and Exporters (Abecafe) months earlier warned that the price of fifth coffee had fallen slightly, although outside the country it maintained a good commercial price.

In his opinion of the president of the trade union Ricardo Esmahan, what has impacted are the almost 20,000 quintals less between one year and the other. But at this time exports tend to dynamite.

Data released by CSC indicate that the average price per quintal of the current harvest has been $223.68, while in the previous one it was $239.82.

It is worth mentioning that at the level of imports of coffee, the trade union maintains that what the country is most bought is soluble coffee, which mostly comes from Brazil.

This article has been translated from the original which first appeared in El Salvador