Caracas, July 22 - Venezuela, a traditional coffee exporter that boasts one of the best cups of java in South America, may have to import coffee for the first time ever this year or face shortages, industry experts said.
Producers say rising costs and prices fixed by the government have caused production to fall and illegal exports to rise. The government says poor climate and speculation by growers and roasters is to blame.
"There is a serious shortage," Pedro Vicente Perez, coffee director with the national agricultural federation, Fedeagro, told Reuters.
"This is the first time ever Venezuela will have to import large quantities of coffee," Perez said.