As March wraps up and April greets us with warmer weather and lighter restrictions – Mercanta reflects on the exciting month. Read below our March Specialty Report from Stephen Hurst:
March was a great month for Mercanta, with cafes and other businesses reopening, we are happy to see the increase in sales of coffee.
Crop-wise we have now instructed all the current season Brazils and by May / June all will have arrived at their destinations. Recently we had a record 3 containers of the same vessel from Brazil to UK. Rwanda arrived in suitable condition and was a popular coffee amongst clients.
Kenya, Ethiopia and all the Centrals are coming now – in fact, we may have set some recent records for the numbers of containers instructed in recent weeks.
Now we have cargo moving to 11 different destinations (8 warehouses for distribution and 3 direct to client sailings) and the financing and logistics of this exercise could not be more complicated, not least as COVID and an increasing tempo of logistical nightmares are really starting to impact movement and arrival of goods.
A plethora of ECOM origin units are actively sending samples (Honduras, Costa Rica, Mexico) and as I mentioned before, we have inbound Vietnam Arabica and India coming in from ECOM in the next months.
Some logistical issues we have experienced this month:
- Suez Canal blockage added roughly a week to UK to Dubai and UK to Japan exports
- Coffee into Seattle taking an extensive period from arrival of vessel to in store, on top of the month sailing time
- Weekly issues with exports UK to EU – Brexit obstacles and arbitrary imposition of different customs clearance regimes in each single EU country
- Vessel routings regularly taking arbitrary and extremely lengthy multiple transhipment passages – East Coast Africa – West Coast USA 3 months. PNG USA 2+ months. Colombia Dubai 2+ months
Mercanta Glasgow will be expanding as we welcome a new employee after Easter.
The UK is gradually lifting the severe lockdown that we have suffered the past three months, but I regret our European cousins are heading the other direction with much worsening COVID situations in France, Germany, and the Nordic regions amongst others.
I think a real litmus test for the survivability / prosperity of the specialty coffee business will be how coffee demand will be impacted as restrictions lift. We hope to continue working with all our partners and continue hunting for high-quality coffee throughout the world.