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Coffee and Tea Reports from the Front Lines

First Official Brazil Crop Estimate for 2005/06 Crop

Brazil - The Ministry of Agriculture released in December their first estimate of the 2005/06 coffee crop and their 4th and final estimate of the 2004/05 crop.

The estimates were made by technicians and agronomists of Conab, the National Supply Company, after a survey covering all the principal coffee growing areas of the producing States during the month of November after the flowering period for the 2005/06 crop and the end of harvesting and milling of the 2004/05 crop.

The Conab report noted that unseasonal intense rains during April and first half July, the beginning of the harvesting period, delayed the crop and caused quality damage in most growing areas. The rains helped the foliage of the trees to produce a better than expected flowering but above normal high temperatures which followed caused some aborting especially in Minas Gerais.

The Conab min/max average estimate for the 2005/06 crop at 31.8 million bags is down 17.5% from their final estimate of 38.6 million bags for the 2004/05 crop. This drop is largely due to the bi-annual production cycle in the majority of the growing areas. Arabica production shows a drop from 31.1 million bags to 23.5 million bags or 24.6% but Robusta production increased to 9.6 million bags from 7.6 million bags na increase of 26.4%.

The Conab survey also notes the estimated average number of bags produced per hectare for all producing States was calculated at 17.47 bags for the 2004/05 crop and 15.49 bags for the first estimate of the 2005/06 crop.

Meanwhile, COOXUPE, the Cooperative of Coffee Growers of Guaxupé Minas Gerais, and the largest Brazilian Coffee Cooperative, announced 2004 exports at a record 1.4 million bags making COOXUPE the fourth largest Brazilian Coffee Exporter during the year 2004 after UNICAFE, Tristão and Marcelino Martins.

COOXUPE was also the largest cooperative receiver of coffees during 2004 with 3.65 million bags delivered by their 9.751 grower members from Minas Gerais and São Paulo.

- Harry C. Jones

Guatemalan Coffees Internet Auction Program Launched

Guatemala - José Angel López, president of the Guatemalan National Coffee Association, Anacafé, recently announced the launching of the Guatemalan Coffees Internet Auction Program for 2005. This year, Anacafé will be organizing and executing two auction programs: The Exceptional Cup and the Q-Auction.

The auction program’s objective is to maintain Guatemalan Coffees image as one of the finest origins in the international market, emphasized López to the national an international media. He also said that this program is an excellent marketing tool where both, growers and buyers, interchange quality and premium prices.

López, who was reelected president of Anacafé last November, informed that Guatemala will offer an innovative and user friendly digital cupping system technology. “This is the first time a producing country utilizes such technology, which will allow precision in the insertion of values by each cupper, the tabulation of results and reports for growers,” he said.

The registration of samples in Anacafé for The Exceptional Cup has been open since January and will be closed on March 18 and the Q-Auction from February 1-4 (in January, exporters will work on the pre-selection of samples). The Exceptional Cup’s Internet Auction is scheduled for June 7th, while the Q-Auction will offer two auction dates: March 15 and June 21.

The program has invited around 20 international jurors (USA, Japan, Sweden, England, France and Singapore), who will be in charge of selecting the top qualified coffees to be offered by the Internet.

López finalized the press conference inviting buyers to “choose the auction that satisfies their needs and to actively bid on the lots of their preference.” Both auction programs use the Specialty Coffee Association of America, SCAA, cupping form and grading standards, as well as its platform for the Internet auction.

For more information, contact William Hempstead, director and coordinator of the marketing committee, at auction@guatemalancoffees.com.

Tea Auction Goes High Tech

India - At the end of March or early April, the world's first electronic bidding for tea will replace the age-old open outcry system of buying and selling tea at auction centres across India, reports the Economic Times.

Tea brokers and buyers are likely to be educated about the new system in a week. While the brokers are quite comfortable with the new system, a large number of buyers seem apprehensive.

The Tea Board has decreed that the Kolkata, Guwahati and Siliguri auction centres should set up the building blocks by the end of March, 2005, after which time, 100% of all transactions related to buying and selling will be done electronically. The southern auction centres at Coonoor, Coimbatore and Kochi have to be ready earlier.

While some auction centres have been partially testing the electronic bidding system for some time now, the real picture will emerge once the bigger centres go on-line.

None of the big international auction houses, like the ones at Mombasa or Colombo, have an electronic auctioning system. ET caught up with various sections of the trade to feel the changeover pulse.

Most leading auctioneers in the city said there was enough time to set up the infrastructure, which mainly entails the installation of computer sets on the auction tables.

While the bigger buyers don’t see much of a problem in the transition, medium and smaller buyers feel the timing is not appropriate and most of them are not prepared to take in the change. Most of the smaller buyers at auction houses were not conversant with laptops and other technology.

Bharat Arya, chairman of Calcutta Tea Traders Association (CTTA), told the Economic Times that "Buyers may initially be apprehensive about the introduction of the new system. But this is the IT age and once any new system is implemented, we'll give it our best shot."

Taster’s Choice Model Awarded Millions

United States - A jury has awarded $15.6 million to a man whose image was used for years without his permission on Taster's Choice coffee labels, reports CNN.

Russell Christoff, a former model from Northern California, posed for a two-hour Nestle photo shoot in 1986 not thinking his photos went to any use. Then he recogized his face on a Taster’s Choice label while shopping at a drug store in 2002.

A legal dispute with Nestle USA ensued. Christoff was offered a $100,000 settlement offer, which he turned down.

Last week, a Los Angeles County Superior Court jury ordered Nestle USA to pay Christoff $15.6 million for using his likeness without his permission and profiting from it. He was awarded 5% of the Glendale-based company's profit from Taster's Choice sales from 1997 to 2003.

During that time, Nestle sold the freeze-dried coffee with labels featuring Christoff's face in the USA, Mexico, South Korea, Japan, Israel and Kuwait. The company's Canadian arm started using his image in 1986.

Nestle USA attorney Lawrence Heller said the company would appeal the verdict.

Eric Stockel, an attorney for Christoff, said he hadn't expected such a large verdict.

Christoff, who is now a kindergarten teacher in California’s Bay Area community of Antioch first came across his picture while shopping for bloody mary mix, and says there's a good reason he didn't spot it sooner.

"I don't buy Taster's Choice," he said. "I do beans."

Tea & Coffee - February/March, 2005

Theta Ridge Coffee

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