“Houston, we have a problem.” This phrase harkens all the way back to Apollo 13’s snafued mission in 1970. It now is often repeated when the proverbial crap hits the fan. Let’s start back to the dawn of Covid 19 in March of 2020. Nobody, and I mean nobody, would have ever thought that a new virus would hit us in the kneecaps and bring the world almost to a halt. The reverberations that were felt were delayed for sure and to be certain we were all in unknown territory. As we all started to come out of the caves, the decades-long lack of support for our port infrastructure became more evident. The cracks grew bigger, and it took one catastrophic event of Covid to reveal the true extent of the neglect. Over the past 2 decades we have spent little to improve our aging port infrastructure. Today we stand at a crisis point. The ports of L.A./ Long Beach are a parking lot full of container ships, with 101 ships stuck, that is utterly amazing and scary in the same breath. The back up to pick up containers at the ports has reached a back breaking 6 hours wait. Our warehouses, the true heroes in all of this, have fought a great battle of Covid outbreaks leading to entire teams of workers restricted to home. Each time, here at Vournas Coffee, when we receive news that a container has been cleared and in the warehouse, we do an Irish jig. Unfortunately, this all could have been avoided and has been one of the leading causes for inflation of goods.
Some Good News, Please?
Okay, ‘Give me some good news Andrew,’ well we will have to wait a bit in the story for that. Now the whammy, a double frost in the huge coffee producing country of Brazil on July 1, 2021. This will affect the 2022 crop, and possibly eradicate 2-10 million bags of coffee. Boom, just like that the market went nuts, settled down, then went nuts again. Now the uncertainty of the stock market and the commodity fund sharks are smelling the blood. They have billions to play with and until they get bored and go somewhere else this market will remain high. Also adding to the headache is the struggle that producing countries are having with the spread of Covid. Most seasonal pickers that cross borders every year to pick now can’t cross, and coffee is being left on trees with the exact number unknown. As I write this today coffee just hit a 10 year high at $2.22. The biggest problem with shipping remains the lack of empty containers, available ships, and sky-high ocean cargo rates. We have seen shipping rates on Indo’s go up from $4800 to $15,000. No, that is not a misprint. This is going to be a wild finish to 2021 and an even more uncertain 2022.
Now For That Good News
Okay, now cue to Andrew for some good news. First off you have made it through basically one of the biggest economic disasters since the Great Depression. We have been working as hard as we can to make sure that we have the coffee you need and coffee that is in the warehouse. Today, we are out of just 2 of our main core coffees. Amazingly, we have coffee to ship in all of this mess! We have been basically stockpiling coffee since January in the event that this happened. As one of my oldest roasters always tells me, you must have coffee to be in the coffee business. We are here to answer all your questions and the Vournas Team has been working in the office all through Covid except for two months in March and April of 2020. This dedication to our job is what we are proud of, after all ordering coffee from Vournas Coffee should be the easiest thing you do all day. We always appreciate your business and friendship, and we look forward to helping you navigate these rough waters. Rest assured we will come out of this leaner, smarter, stronger and with the understanding that we must pivot when necessary. As my favorite saying goes, “The easiest day was yesterday.” We will make it through this mess!
Keep those roasters humming!
Stay safe and healthy.
President & CEO
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