Vietnam expected to gain a record high of 2.4 billion USD in coffee exports this year, 58 percent higher than last year, said the Vietnam Coffee and Cacao Association.

The sharp increase in export value was due to a surge in the average export price, rising from 1,368 USD per tonne last year to 2,134 USD per tonne this year, the association said.

The export volume of coffee this year was estimated to reach 1.3 million tonnes.

However, the coffee industry had faced many challenges during this crop, the association said.

Many processing plants had seen a moderate output due to a lack of raw material, high interest rates and low profits.

Local coffee enterprises have had to compete with foreign rivals to purchase coffee beans for processing, said Nguyen Nam Hai, general secretary of the Club of Coffee Exporters.

Foreign firms purchased 50 percent of this year’s crop while local enterprises struggled to gain access to bank loans to purchase coffee beans, the association said.

Foreign firms were also willing to pay a high price so local farmers were giving them priority.

In the long term, this could be bad news for the domestic coffee industry, because foreign firms could monopolise the market, Hai said.

The cost of coffee on the domestic market has fallen to 39.2 million VND per tonne from 44 million VND at the end of October.

Luong Van Tu, a coffee industry expert, said the price was unlikely to fall any further because 20 leading Vietnamese coffee exporters planned to purchase 300,000 tonnes of stock to bolster prices.

The association reported the country exported 1.1 million tonnes of coffee in the first 11 months of the year, earning 2.3 billion USD. Key export markets for local coffee included the US, Germany and Belgium. /.