No 26

Impacts of El Niño on Colombian Coffee Farming

April, 2016

Sustainability that Matters

Impacts of El Niño on Colombian Coffee Farming

The percentages of floating fruits, green fruits with filling problems and trees with wilting symptoms, which are a measure of present, future and longer-term economic impact, double (or even triple in the case of green fruits with filling problems) the percentages considered normal.

The El Niño event that has affected Colombia mainly by late 2015, resulting in lower rainfall and a temperature increase in different coffee growing regions, fortunately starts to lessen.

But the impacts it has caused so far on Colombian coffee plantations have been important. It is estimated that the volume of coffee produced during the first half of the year may decrease between 700,000 and 1.5 million bags.

To determine more accurately the impact of El Niño, the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC), through the Extension Service, conducted a field study in the first two weeks of February on a statistically representative sample of 7,048 coffee farms.


The results of the study, released recently, reflected a strong impact in all the country’s coffee departments based on the evaluation of three variables:

  1. Percentage of floating fruits due to dry weather in a sample taken from the “beneficiadero” (post-harvest facility) (a damage that impacts coffee growers’ present income).
  2. Percentage of green fruits aged between 180 and 190 days with filling or formation problems (damage that impacts future income).
  3. Percentage of trees with wilting symptoms (damage that affects performance of trees in a longer term).

Taking this into account, the study showed the following results by analyzed variable:

  1. Percentage of floating fruits: a national average of 19.4% due to dry weather (being normal up to 10%).
  2. An average of 33.3% of green fruits with filling or formation problems (being normal up to 10%).
  3. A 16.5% average of trees with wilting symptoms (this percentage is critical when greater than or equal to 8%).

The extent of the impact varies by department, but there were economic damage impacts in all the country’s departments.

  1. The highest percentage of floating fruits occurred in Meta, Caldas, Cundinamarca, Risaralda and Valle del Cauca.
  2. The highest impact of green fruits with filling problems occurred in Tolima, Huila, Caldas, Antioquia, Cundinamarca and Valle del Cauca.
  3. The departments most affected by trees with wilting symptoms are Antioquia, Caldas, Caquetá, Cesar and La Guajira.

In the first quarter of this year, Colombian coffee production increased 9% compared to first quarter of 2015 and exports grew 13%, but April will likely begin to reflect the effects of the intense El Niño event both on production and exports.

Keeping our clients, allies and strategic partners informed about the effects of El Niño on Colombian coffee farming is part of our commitment to transparency as a reliable coffee supplier.

You are invited to learn more about our coffee family and our products, visiting the COLOMBIAN COFFEE INSIGHTS sections on the top of this page.