Coffee producers note downturn

While the world's big coffee producers were working out an exports quota system, they were acutely aware that world coffee consumption has declined, Monitor correspondent James Nelson Goodsell reports.

The decision Thursday by the producers and consumers to extend the present international trade-regulating agreement another year gave a boost to coffee prices, which rose to 124.03 cents a pound from 122.62 cents Wednesday and levels below 120 last week. But the prices were still well below their 1977 peak of over $3.

Low prices were attributed to current excessive coffee supplies and sluggish consumer demand. There had been a danger that no new pact would emerge to replace the previous six-year accord signed in 1975 as the exporters sought to increase their share of the market.

The big producers - Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, and several African countries - were being accused by smaller producers of using ''bulldozer'' tactics to gobble up the declining market. Each wants a bigger share of the proposed total export of 52.4 million sacks.

Meanwhile, the International Scientific Coffee Association at its annual meeting at Trieste, Italy, reported that world consumption dropped from 3.47 cups per capita in 1960 to 1.47 cups in 1980. US consumption is dramatically down, the report said - having fallen 60 percent since the end of World War II. And the trend suggests the decline is continuing. Soft drinks, tea, and other beverages are reportedly the culprits.

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