Vietnamese beans for shipment from January onward were at a premium of $30 to $50 a metric tonne above the price on the NYSE Liffe exchange, according to the traders, who declined to be identified because they're not authorised to speak to the media. That compares with a discount of $10 to $30 a tonne on December 8, another three traders said then.

The local market remains "very firm," Volcafe, the Winterthur, Switzerland-based coffee unit of commodities trader ED&F Man Holdings Ltd, said in a report e-mailed today, adding that there was demand for the beans and that coffee was available "only if one is willing to meet the current prices."

Robusta coffee for March delivery fell 0.1 percent to $1,900 a tonne by 3:45 p.m. on NYSE Liffe in London. The contract slid 3.7 percent from the high of $1,974 a tonne on December 8, when traders reported discounts, and declined 9.4 percent this year.

Vietnam's coffee farmers are slowing sales from the latest crop because of low prices, Do Ha Nam, general director of Vietnam's Intimex Joint-Stock Corp., the biggest shipper from the previous crop, said at a conference in HCM City last week. Exports will be spread over the whole year and not just in the first half, he said.

The nation is set to produce 22.1 million bags of 60- kilograms in the season started in October, up from 20 million bags in 2010-11, Volcafe estimates.

Bloomberg - Decembe 19, 2011