Vietnam is a significant producer of robusta, a bitter-tasting bean that is used in instant coffee and in some espresso blends. But COVID-19 induced lockdown in the Southeast Asian country has led to an increase in concern over global supplies of coffee.

Vietnam's exporting hub of Ho Chi Minh, the country's biggest city, is under strict travel restriction due to the rise in COVID-19 cases, owing to the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

So far this year, the prices of wholesale robusta beans have risen by about 50%. The lockdown and travel restrictions mean that exporters are finding it hard to transport goods, including coffee beans, around the world.

The travel restriction brings another problem for Ho Chi Minh, a high shortage of shipping containers and towering freight costs.

The Vietnamese city and its ports play an important role in the global shipping network that runs from China to Europe.

To avoid further delays to shipments and increasing costs, the Vietnam Coffee-Cocoa Association and other trade organisations have urged the government to ease the travel restrictions.

Vietnam's transport minister, last week, keeping in mind the concerns, ordered regional authorities to ease unnecessary burdens on the transport of goods, including coffee.

The Vietnamese problem is the latest problem to hit the coffee industry.

Brazil, the world's biggest producer of arabica coffee beans, witnessed its crops impacted by drought and frosts. The deadly frost impact prompted the cost of unroasted coffee beans to record its highest price in seven years.

Reportedly, the frost damage was so severe that the farmers may need to replant trees.

What are robusta coffee beans?

Coffea canephora is a species of coffee that originates in central and western sub-Saharan Africa. Robusta is a species of flowering plant in the family Rubiaceae. Even though it is known as Coffea robusta, the plant is scientifically identified as Coffea canephora.