imageNEW YORK: Differentials for Brazilian and Colombian arabica coffee fell for the first time in months this week but remained elevated as the futures market rallied off 13-month lows.

The average differential on 2/3 strictly soft/fine cup Brazilian coffee shipped from the Santos port dipped to even with the benchmark May arabica coffee price on ICE Futures US, down from a premium of 2.5 cents a lb ex dock last week.

The premium for usual good quality Colombian beans dipped to 16 cents a lb ex dock above the futures price, down a penny from last week, with some forward shipments reported below those levels.

Second-month May futures rallied as many as 18 cents on Thursday above the low of $ 1.288 cents a lb hit last Friday, allowing exporters to lower differentials slightly to attract buyers.

In Colombia, the drop came just ahead of the heart of the harvest season of the mid-crop, or mitaca, which is expected to be abundant this year.

“Every day that goes by you’re getting a little bit closer to a strong mitaca,” one US importer said.

Dealers were also encouraged by the end to a month-long trucker strike in Colombia, which they said could boost liquidity and restore confidence in the supply chain.

Differentials remained firm in Central America, where the impact of a leaf rust disease known as roya has hurt output.

The premium for strictly high grown Nicaraguan coffee rose to 29 cents a lb, the highest level since early June of 2014, as demand for its high-quality specialty beans rose amid tight supplies in Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica.

“They’re the cheapest, best coffee left,” a US trader said.

Copyright Reuters, 2015