Second only to oil, coffee is widely considered to be the most valuable legally traded commodity in the world, with an estimated 2.25 billion cups of coffee consumed worldwide every day. However, consistently high demand does not mean that coffee farmers, traders, buyers, and sellers are rolling in the beans. In fact, coffee has a history of significant price volatility that has greatly affected the ability of market participants to turn a profit.
According to Fairtrade International, this volatility spurred the creation of the first International Coffee Agreement in 1962, which was designed to stabilize the market by introducing quotas to withhold excessive coffee supplies. In 1994, a new version of this agreement stipulated that prices would no longer be regulated, and that same year, prices escalated to a high of $2.80 per pound thanks to a frost threatening crops in Brazil. Then in 2001, coffee prices fell to a thirty year low of $.45 per pound almost overnight due to overproduction, devastating farmers and putting many out of business.
Fast forward to 2011, when prices climbed to a 14-year high, spurring growers to expand coffee-growing lands and plant high-yielding tree varieties. Because of this, we are now experiencing what the Wall Street Journal calls the biggest coffee bust in over a decade due to overproduction. Arabica coffee on the ICE Futures U.S. exchange recently fell to their lowest levels since September 2009.
In order to maintain profit margins amidst never ending volatility, companies engaged in the buying, trading, and selling of coffee must have sophisticated commodity trading and risk management (CTRM) solutions providing business intelligence and analysis tools that enable smarter decisions, minimize risk, and optimize supply chain management. Spreadsheets do not provide the sophisticated functionality needed for maximizing efficiency and profitability in today’s unpredictable environment.
Coffee & Cocoa International has published an article featuring Triple Point’s Brian Seidman, VP, Solutions Director, Agriculture, exploring these very issues. It discusses how companies including Armajaro Trading and Mercon Coffee Group are leveraging Triple Point’s Commodity XL for Agriculture solution to mitigate market risk, maximize profitability, and achieve optimized supply chain management. Read it now.
Triple Point officially opened its Latin American headquarters in Rio de Janeiro this week with a special reception hosting Vale, NORSUL, and other leading companies that rely on Triple Point’s Commodity Management solutions.
The new office enables Triple Point to service its rapidly growing customer base throughout the region. Latin America has always been an important market to Triple Point, with Petrobras becoming a customer back in 2000.
The Latin American economy is very commodity-driven because of rich natural resources including coffee, sugar, oil, and iron ore. The Brazilian economy in particular is the largest in the region, and the country is also one of the world’s largest commodity exporters.
In recent years, the commodity markets have become very volatile, with companies struggling to mitigate exposure to market swings. Because of these conditions, effective risk management is more important than ever, and Triple Point has seen interest in its commodity trading and risk management (CTRM) solutions increase significantly throughout Latin America.
The energy, mining, agriculture, and consumer products (CP) industries within Latin America represent big opportunities for Triple Point because Triple Point’s solutions provide extensive functionality that addresses the unique challenges of each industry. Learn more.
The US Midwest is suffering its worst drought in decades. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently dropped its corn yield forecast from 166 bushels per acre, made earlier this year, to 123 bushels per acre. The expected shortage of corn is causing prices to surge.
Corn has multiple uses – it is used as fuel (ethanol), animal feed, or directly as food. Roughly 40% of US corn production goes towards ethanol, 36% towards feed, and the rest towards food.
There are several concerned groups that believe the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should relax the ethanol requirement under the Federal Renewable Fuels Standard act, which states that there must be 13.2 billion gallons of corn starch-derived biofuel produced in 2012. The UN has called for an immediate suspension of the US-mandated use of ethanol. In addition, a coalition of beef, pork, and poultry producer associations have called for a cessation of the ethanol requirement.
Whether the EPA will ease the ethanol requirement is not the most important question – the real question is how do we plan to deal with rising agricultural commodity prices and volatility in the long term? The corn shortage might be a one season event, but volatile agriculture and softs prices are here for the long term.
We have an expanding world population that is forecasted to grow from 7 billion to 10 billion in the next 35+ years. As part of this population growth, there is a rapidly growing middle class across China, India, and other parts of Asia. China and India alone are doubling their per capita incomes at approximately 10 times the rate and 200 times the scale achieved by Britain’s Industrial Revolution in the 1800s. This growing middle class wants to eat higher on the protein scale (more meat which needs more animal feed). And it appears we’ve hit a pattern of severe weather events including droughts, floods, extreme temperatures, etc. These long term trends will drive acute commodity price swings – which is, as we’ve said before, the new normal.
All companies in the food supply chain, from upstream to downstream, should be putting plans and commodity risk management systems in place to handle price volatility.
In recent years, the world agricultural markets have seen a surge in prices and volatility brought about by several factors including poor harvests, sustained demand, increased use of agricultural products for fuel, increased activity on commodity markets and soaring oil prices causing fuel and fertilizer costs to rise. As a result, Growers, Originators and Producers are starting to adopt CTRM systems, typically used by energy companies, in order to gain the real-time business intelligence they need to make optimal decisions around trade execution, position management, and physical logistics.
Triple Point has been helping traditional energy and commodity trading companies manage the unique complexities of their commodity trading and risk management business for over a decade. In order to help Agriculture companies identify the most critical components of a CTRM solution for their business, Triple Point has compiled a checklist of the key functionality Agriculture companies should look for when considering CTRM tools.
Here are seven to consider:
1. Trading – A CTRM solution should provide complete control over trading operations and enable traders to better manage current positions and gain real-time information to take advantage of market movement. It should integrate physical and financial trading, improve trading efficiencies with deal entry templates/blotters, provide sensitivity analysis, and enable “what-if” scenarios.
2. Price Risk Management- Look for sophisticated analytical tools for portfolio stress testing and sensitivity analysis to run what-if trades. These tools should enable you to analyze real-time position and exposure — market, volumetric, credit, delivery, and FX risk — at granular and rolled-up levels for optimized price risk management.
3. Chartering and Vessel Operations- Commercial chartering and vessel operations are a crucial part of the agribusiness supply chain and must be seamlessly integrated into the CTRM system. At a minimum, the system should allow you to manage all chartering, post-fixture activities including freight risk management, and financial aspects of commercial vessel operations in a single system.
4. Scheduling- Schedulers must be able to plan, conduct, and optimize complex physical movements in real time. The system should manage the logistical complexities and streamline the supply chain operations required to transport bulk commodities. It should handle all transactions from straight forward physical trade matching, to complex itinerary scheduling involving multiple trades, commodities, methods of transportation, and inventory movements.
5. Counterparty Credit Risk Management- Recent financial and debt crises demand the ability to proactively measure, manage, and mitigate the risk arising from counterparty default. The CTRM solution should address the entire credit risk process and provide a full range of credit analysis and operational tools in 3 key areas: exposure, collateral, and counterparty management. The most advanced solutions also provide credit analytics.
6. Hedge Accounting- A key component of any CTRM solution is the ability to manage the daunting set of requirements under hedge accounting regulations, including the detailed testing, documentation, and reporting that must be performed in order to qualify for hedge accounting status. Make sure that the solution provides full compliance with ASC 815 (FAS 133), ASC 815-10 (FAS 161), IAS 39 (IFRS 9) and similar national hedge accounting regulations.
7. Fair Value Disclosure- The system must provide the tools and framework to define, measure, and manage fair value levels and meet all disclosure requirements for ASC 820 (FAS 157) and IFRS 7 compliance.