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Coffee and Tea Spared in Latest Slew of Hurricanes

The tea and coffee industries in New Orleans and coastal Texas were luckily spared from the severity of hurricanes, Gustav and Ike. However, areas in Texas were significantly damaged and decimated. Insurers are seeing more structural damage than in the past. Insurance underwriter Adam Rekerdres (Dallas, Texas) tells us that with rising sea tides and land soil subsiding, storm surges are doing immeasurable damage, more than has ever been seen before.

As most of our readers already know, coffee and tea are tropical products, sporadically exposed to climatic conditions and agricultural horrors. While coffee and tea fight to survive amidst droughts, monsoons and frosts in producing nations, the crops must also contend with weather-related factors in consuming countries. The coffee industry suffered substantial losses in New Orleans due to Katrina and several times, we saw the Jamaican coffee crop entirely wiped out due to hurricane activity.

What roasters, packers, importers, retailers and brewers should be concerned about is sourcing origins. When choosing your origin, one has to manage the risk, and take into account the weather and port conditions at both ends of the journey. If a region experiences a drought or monsoon, what other origins can be a suitable replacement? If the port is closed, how will you get your product? How will the contracts be fulfilled? Backup plans are needed when tea and coffee are inaccessible.

As Hurricanes Gustav and Ike approached the U.S., the Green Coffee Association and warehouses kept its members informed as to conditions and “plan B” options throughout the disaster.

The National Coffee Association of the U.S. will be holding their Fall Educational Conference in New Orleans, October 15-17. For many of us, this will be an opportunity to see first-hand the effects of hurricane damage on the city and its thriving coffee culture. Among other fine presenters, Adam Rekerdres will be talking on the current insurance issues.

Jane McCabe
Editor & Co-Publisher


Tea & Coffee - October, 2008

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