Today is Good Friday and this is Easter Weekend in the Ethiopian Calendar. The shortened working week saw a lot of activity, with the terminal market once again rallying to new heights selling opportunities were abundant for Ethiopian shippers; while some already struggling to cover previously established shorts are abstaining to offer, those that have been accumulating stocks saw continuous opportunities to sell. Grade 5 and Grade 4 coffees traded above Minimum Registration Prices at very attractive differentials (for buyers), overseas buyers (trade and roasters) bought at the most attractive differentials seen in a very long time! Busy times ahead and quite possibly some worrying times for those that had not counted on such a rapid and strong move upwards. Sourcing coffee at ECX has become difficult as the volumes channeled through the exchange are small, agrabes are very much preferring to sell through Vertical Integration, although this channel is likely to become more like Private Treaty as middlemen hunt for the best price among eager to buy shippers.

Reported Covid cases have been declining in recent weeks a cause for optimism, as it appears that the pandemic is not running out of control, below the weekly stats since January 2020:

We continue to read reports of ethnic conflict in Amhara Region, in areas with diverse ethnicity. It would seem that having united behind the Government to resolve the conflict in Tigray, different ethnic groups are now airing their grievances in areas of the country that are ethnically diverse. Some reporters have suggested that these clashes could force a postponement of the June polls.

Forex Birr 41.95 = USD 1

Have a good weekend.

Busy week with increased activity on the selling and buying side. As the terminal market returned to mid March levels differentials starting to look attractive once more. Quality so far is good, we have now seen the full quality spectrum from a range of shippers and all are meeting expectations. There is a lot of coffee activity in Addis, ECX is selling big volumes, shippers are milling at full capacity and the only issue that can dampen shipments are logistics. Some shipping lines do not have containers in Addis, others do not have slots on vessels and this is the weak link. So far things are holding up, March exports were high (as mentioned last week) but shippers are increasingly frustrated when they want to book or stuff as shipping lines do have enough equipment to meet demand.

The graph below maps the differential between the Minimum Registration Price for Lekempti 5 and KC from May last year to date, 1 year of weekly prices. On 2 occasions have the differentials dipped below -30, in July/August last year when NY rallied strongly and recently when NY traded between 135 and 140 in the end of February first half March.

With NY heading back through the 135 level, differentials once again are looking attractive if the terminal market continues to rally shippers will once again have a chance to get short. Equally buyers will be encouraged to buy as quality is good and shippers are performing well. Additionally with Brazil well sold and differentials firm Ethiopia Naturals are looking increasingly attractive.

Birr 42.02 = USD 1

Have a good weekend.


The higher market has allowed for some more business this week. Differentials eased as NY May gallivanted through the 130 level allowing shippers that are not overly focused on covering shorts, to sell; Minimum registration prices for lower grade Naturals have remained in a very narrow range of 3 cents since February so those with some stocks have sold into this week’s rally. Larger shippers were quieter abstaining from offering since they have previous shorts to cover and complain that they do not have access to as much coffee at ECX as they would like. However ECX volumes have improved and coffee is flowing from the interior to Djibouti. Quality wise we have no problems, the expected larger and better crop 2020/2021 crop is in full swing. Logistics are the weak link here, delays in vessels, cancellations and lack of containers of some shipping lines have not improved but this is nothing new…

The Covid situation improved slightly in the past week, we shall have to wait for confirmation of a trend in the coming weeks, for now we are keeping our fingers crossed that the pandemic gets under control.

Birr 40.60 = USD 1

Have a good weekend.


We have finally started to see the increased crop be reflected in Export volumes; March 21 exports exceed March 20 by 700 MT and reverse the picture of the past 10 months, where the monthly exports fell short of the corresponding month of the year before. We now expect this trend to continue in April and so on as the higher 20/21 crop is shipped.

News of the pandemic in East Africa continues to be very worrisome, the Tanzania President having succumbed to the disease, Kenya once again in lockdown and the numbers in Ethiopia reaching new highs. What the implication of souring covid cases will be, we do not know, however we are mindful that the initial postponement of the 2020 elections was due to the pandemic.

Source: World Health Organisation – weekly figures from 1st week in January 2020 to last week in March 2021

Forex 41.50

Have a good weekend.


With so much talk this week on forex rates of the currencies of the world’s largest Producer and Consumer countries and how these affect coffee prices, it might be a welcome distraction to look at how the birr has been behaving in the last few months. No surprises, the birr has steadily devalued 30% between January 2020 and the 1st of April 2021. A year ago we speculated whether the local currency would have reached 40 to the greenback by mid 2020, alas this milestone was only reached in March 2021.

Source: National Bank of Ethiopia

Birr 41.34 = USD 1

With Elections due 5th June, simmering tensions between ethnic groups are coming to the surface. For now the central Government is in control, let’s hope that things stay this way to insure a peaceful poll.

Shippers’ prices remain firm, as do Minimum Registration Prices, making sales difficult in a declining terminal market. In any event shippers are focusing on fulfilling previous commitments in a challenging logistics scenario, empty containers continue to be hard to find. Volumes of Naturals reaching ECX continue to disappoint and frustrate shippers.

Have a good (long) weekend