NEW YORK, Dec 16 (Reuters) - U.S. coffee warehouse stocks were at their highest levels for a November for at least the last 13 years, according to the most recently released data, as Brazil aggressively shipped coffee amid a tumbling local currency and traders question the strength of demand in the United States.
Overall inventories still fell in November, as is typical ahead of the peak consumption period in the U.S. winter. But the drawdown was much smaller than average, which traders said was a bearish sign for a market that has seen prices tumble 30 percent this year, as the rise of more efficient single-serve coffee has dented demand.
“I certainly wouldn’t be ringing any bells or saying any bullish cheers over this data,” said Judith Ganes-Chase, president of J. Ganes Consulting. “Stocks are not falling as fast as they normally would be during the seasonal downswing.”
U.S. stocks fell by 156,232 60-kg bags between October and November, according to Green Coffee Association (GCA) data released on Tuesday, substantially less than the 307,289-bag drop last year and below the average drop of 194,966 bags for the month over the past 14 years.
Total September-November inventory drawdowns were 15 percent below the 14-year average.
That brought total stocks to 5,791,966 bags, the highest level for a November month on records dating back to 2002. That was just off 12-year highs hit in August.
Stocks typically decline during the fall and winter months and build during the spring and summer. Traders said the small drawdown could delay any rebound from current price levels just above nearly two-year lows.
“Everyone’s been waiting to see certified stocks falling, Brazil exports slow, and consuming country stocks decrease,” one U.S. trader said of the main indications that a hike in futures prices is looming.
While certified stocks on ICE Futures U.S. KC-TOT-TOT have dropped to the lowest level since August 2012, Brazilian exports have been strong. Producers are eager to sell with the real currency near record lows against the dollar, boosting local returns.
Brazil’s 2015 coffee exports are expected to surpass the 2014 record-high of 36.3 million bags.
Roasters have taken advantage of a market near two-year lows to lock in prices for future needs, even as the higher U.S. stock levels raised questions about demand in the world’s top consumer.
The soaring popularity of single-serve, led by Keurig Green Mountain Inc, has made coffee drinking more efficient, with official forecasts predicting 2015/16 consumption will fall for the first time in six years. (Reporting By Luc Cohen and Marcy Nicholson; Editing by Bill Rigby)