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Brazil forced to import Robusta coffee

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Brazil’s Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi said on Monday that he has asked the country’s Foreign Trade Chamber to authorize robusta coffee imports at near zero tariff, according to the ministry.

If the board approves the request, it would be the first time in decades for Brazil to import coffee. There is a shotage in the supply of robusta supply which threatens to sharply reduce instant coffee production.

“I understand that it is necessary at the moment,” Maggi said about the imports.

Brazil is the world’s largest producer and exporter of green coffee and also the world’s biggest exporter of instant coffee. It produced a record arabica coffee crop in 2016, but the robusta output fell to the lowest since 2004 after drought in the main producing state.

Arabica coffees are mainly used to produce ground roasted brands, while the robusta type is mainly used for instant coffee production.

The minister said that recent numbers for processed coffee exports, including soluble coffee, indicate large reductions. He said imports were necessary to guarantee that instant coffee makers in Brazil would survive the current supply crisis.