Now the holidays are over, it’s back to business for every coffee professional around the globe. Starting the new year, every company is talking about growth and hot prospects for the future. And there is no better way to learn and grow, than to know your history and learn from the market signals! That’s why 32cup looks back at the tumultuous year 2012. In this second part of the review we examin the evolutions in the ICE Market.


The New York or “ICE” Market, is the place to be for the international trade of Arabica coffees. The prices are expressed in USC/lb (dollar cents per pound).

After a very prosperous 2011, the previous year was the scenery of a steady downfall. Being kick-started by its predecessor, the 2012 market price started off around 225 USC/LB. However, the trend was bearish. Mid-February, the score went down the magical 200 USC/lb margin, sending out a signal for things to come. The bear continued growling, and forced the market as deep as 150 USC/lb by mid-June. The summertime inspired the market to a small recovery, pushing the July month average over 180 USC/lb, a score that would not be matched down the line. August (165.74 USC/lb monthly average) caused a decrease once again, countered by an optimistic September spirit (171.84 USC/lb monthly average). From October onwards, however, the trend was very clear. The 160 USC/lb border was crossed again, and in November even the 140 USC/lb gauge was not safe from harm. December closed steadily around a market price of 145 USC/lb, giving the traders something to think about.

Ice Market Price Evolution 2012

When looking at the naked numbers of 2012, the trend seems a little gloomy. To put this downward inclination into perspective, we need to take earlier years into account. In fact, three years ago, the market was stable around 135 USC/lb, showing little signs of improving. The turnaround came in May 2010, when the market price sky-rocketed, only to come to a halt in May 2011, tickling the 300 USC/lb mark for a while. After that, the bear got loose. Despite a small recovery in August-September 2011, the market plunged as far down as 160 USC/lb and below. In the Summer and Fall of 2012 the market price went up and down, and circled around 170 USC/LB. The last noted end-of-day price of 2012 was 143.8 USC/lb, one of the lowest points in two years.

ICE Monthly Averages 2010-2012

If we reach even further and take a glimpse at the last 18 years in coffee, the true nature of the current coffee affairs rises to the surface. We can see clearly that the yearly average of 2011 jumps out of the ordinary, meaning the climax of the bullish trend that had started in 2002.

 ICE Market Price 1994-2012

Between 1999 and 2005, a yearly average beneath 100 USC/LB was very normal. The previous peak dates back to 1997, trading at a 184.61 USC/lb rate on average. Hence, the recent rollercoaster of the ICE coffee market should be seen in perspective. It’s no surprise that 2012 did not match the record-breaking 2011 coffee year, and 2013 can look very different again.

You can also read up on our review of the evolutions in the ForEx Market and Liffe Market in 2012.

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Sofie Nys Sofie Nys

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