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Natural Foods Merchandiser

Naturals retailers keeping an eye on rising coffee bean prices

Natural products retailers say it’s too soon to tell how they will be affected by the rising price of green coffee beans.

Natural products retailers say it’s too soon to tell how they will be affected by the rising price of green coffee beans.

Green Arabica coffee beans reached a 13-year high earlier this month, from $1.45 per pound to $1.90 per pound, and some coffee companies already have raised their prices. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc., which supplies fair trade coffee, said it would raise prices on all K-Cup single-serving portion packs beginning Oct. 11 and that consumers could expect to see price increases of 10 percent to 15 percent over the next several months.

“Like others in the coffee industry, we have been closely monitoring rising green coffee costs … for several months,” said Scott McCreary, president of Green Mountain’s special coffee business unit. “While we have the flexibility to absorb some short-term cost increases, the sustained nature of the increases we’ve experienced over the past three months led us to conclude it is necessary to adjust our pricing.”

Marcelo Mino, a coffee buyer for the Natural Grocery Company in Berkeley and El Cerrito, Calif., said he doesn’t yet know how much his suppliers will increase prices and that he hasn’t raised prices in the store yet. The Natural Grocery Company sells organic fair trade coffee primarily from Equal Exchange and Pachamama Coffee Cooperative.

“The increase hasn’t affected us yet. But as I get price increases for organic fair trade coffee beans, I need to pass the increase on to consumers,” Mino said. “It’s our responsibility as retailers and as consumers to understand the cost of producing quality food. The livelihood of the farmers is at stake.”

Summer Auerbach, chief operating officer at Rainbow Blossom Natural Food Markets in Louisville, Ky., said the store’s local roasters and national brands have raised prices, but that it’s too soon to tell how the price increases will affect store sales.

Coffee giant Starbucks Corp. raised prices on certain coffee drinks and said it “could not rule out the possibility” of raising prices for its packaged coffee in grocery stores.

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