Coffee Production Near Record Levels, Sustainable Share Rising

Michael Renner | Aug 05, 2014


According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA-FAS), world coffee production during the 2013/14 crop year was just slightly over 9 million tons, down 3.2 percent from the record 9.3 million tons in 2012/13.1 The decline was largely due to developments in Brazil, where production has suffered from a mix of such adverse factors as frost damage in Paraná, prolonged drought, and high temperatures in Minas Gerais and São Paulo states.2

Although zig-zagging from year to year, production has been on an overall steady upward trend, especially from the mid-1990s.3 According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which offers a longer time series, production today is double the 4.5 million tons in 1961/62.4 FAO does not yet have data for 2013/14, however, and over the last decade FAO and USDA-FAS have offered somewhat different production estimates.5 (See Figure 1.)

Coffee Figure 1 

Notwithstanding some ups and downs between the early 1970s and early 1990s, the total area of land devoted to coffee cultivation has stayed within the same general range. In 1961, the global total was 9.8 million hectares (ha), hitting a low of 7.9 million ha in 1976, then a peak of 11.2 million ha in 1990, only to return to 10 million ha by 2012.6 Gains in output have principally been due to rising yields. Over the last half-century, the average harvest per hectare has improved from 384 kilograms (kg) in 1964 to 879 kg in 2012.7 (See Figure 2.)

The Worldwatch Institute is an independent research organization known around the world for its accessible, fact-based analysis of critical global issues. Learn More