Coffee tumbles to 21-month low on surplus; sugar, cocoa decline

May 23 (Bloomberg) -- Coffee futures sank to a 21-month low on mounting concern that Europe’s debt crisis is eroding demand prospects as exporters boost sales in Brazil, the world’s largest grower. Sugar and cocoa also slid.

Global coffee output may outpace demand by 5.3 million bags in the year that starts in October, Rabobank International said May 21. The crop in Colombia, the largest producer of arabica beans after Brazil, will improve in the second half of the year and will rise in 2013 from this season, the head of the National Federation of Coffee Growers said yesterday. The Brazilian real extended losses to a three-year low. Global equities fell on signs the European crisis is worsening.

“There’s too much coffee,” Maria Lopez-Calleja, a broker with INTL FCStone in Miami, said in a telephone interview. “There’s also much uncertainty surrounding Greece’s possible exit from the euro and who would follow after that.”

Arabica coffee for July delivery plunged 4.4 percent to settle at $1.669 a pound at 2 p.m. on ICE Futures U.S. in New York, after reaching $1.651, the lowest for a most-active contract since July 28, 2010.

The price has dropped 26 percent this year, making it the worst performer among the 24 raw materials tracked by the Standard & Poor’s GSCI Spot Index, which today slumped as much as 2.3 percent.

‘Limited’ Upside Potential

While the commodity “has reached my downside target of $1.65 a pound” for the near term, its “upside potential will be limited by the advancing harvest in Brazil,” Boyd Cruel, a commodity analyst for Vision Financial Markets in Chicago, said in a telephone interview.

A bag of coffee weighs 60 kilograms, or 132 pounds.

Raw-sugar futures for July delivery fell 1.5 percent to 19.51 cents a pound on ICE, after touching 19.36 cents, the lowest since Aug. 27, 2010. The sweetener posted its fourth straight decline, the longest slide in three weeks.

India’s rupee dropped to a record low. The country is the world’s biggest producer of sugar after Brazil.

Weakening currencies in India and Brazil “translate into cheaper sugar becoming available,” Jeff Bauml, a senior vice president with broker R.J. O’Brien, said in an e-mail.

Cocoa futures for July delivery fell 2.5 percent to $2,124 a metric ton in New York, the third straight decline. Earlier, the price reached $2,100, the lowest since April 12.

In London futures trading, robusta coffee, refined sugar and cocoa also retreated on NYSE Liffe.

Bloomberg News

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