London/Ho Chi Minh City/Sao Paulo — Hoang Thi Thom, a coffee grower in Vietnam, the world’s second-biggest producer, isn’t keen to sell this year’s harvest. With prices for the robusta coffee she grows down 18% in 2017, Thom has sold just a tiny fraction of the six to seven tonnes she expects to gather this season. The rest she plans to hold back until after the Tet holidays that celebrate the Lunar New Year in mid-February. "We would suffer a big loss if we sold coffee beans at this dirt-cheap price," said Thom, who farms in Dak Lak, Vietnam’s top growing province. "The remainder of my harvest I think I would sell in February, after Tet." Thom is not alone; 18,000km away in top producer Brazil, grower Joao Luis Carneiro Vianna is holding back half of this year’s harvest, more than the usual 30%. The price of the milder-tasting, more-expensive arabica beans he produces is down 8% this year. Such reticence to sell too cheaply by well-capitalised farmers in Brazil and Vietnam could up...

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