Coffee drinkers may have noticed that indulging their habit at the local Starbucks (NasdaqGM: SBUX) costs a little more today than it did a few weeks ago. In late June, the world’s largest coffeehouse operator announced modest price increases for brewed coffee, tea, latte and espresso drinks, though the company was quick to note that less than a third of its items would be affected by the increase.
Customers ought to wonder why Starbucks, or any coffee company for that matter, is raising prices. A look at the chart of the iPath DJ-UBS Coffee TR Sub-Index ETN (NYSEArca: JO), which tracks an index of coffee futures, shows an ETN moving in one direction: Down. [The Bear has Growled for These Commodity ETFs]
Making the Starbucks price increase all the more curious is that the weak Brazilian real is prompting increased shipments from the world’s largest coffee producer. First-half were 20 percent higher than a year earlier at 13.385 million bags, or 803,000 metric tons, Marvin G. Perez and Isis Almeida reported for Bloomberg.
During the second quarter, the real was the worst-performing emerging markets currency. The WisdomTree Brazilian Real Fund (NYSEArca: BZF) has plunged 10.4% in the past three months. [Plenty of Culprits Affecting This Currency ETF]
Coffee, like other commodities, is denominated in dollars. That means that although the weak real is hampering plenty of Brazil stocks and ETFs, the countries coffee growers stand to benefit from selling dollar-denominated java and converting back into more reals.
As the situation pertains to JO, Brazil is sitting on its largest coffee stockpiles in six years, according to Bloomberg, meaning the country could be active in looking to reduce inventories while exploiting the strong dollar/weak real scenario. Translation: More supply coming to market is unlikely to be a positive catalyst for JO, which has lost almost 38% in the past year.