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J.M. Smucker Lowers U.S. Coffee Prices

Wed, 08/17/2011 - 4:55am
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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — J.M. Smucker Co. announced Tuesday that it has lowered its US coffee prices, though not enough to make up for several recent increases.

The company, which sells coffee under the Folgers, Millstone and Dunkin' Donuts brands, has raised its coffee prices four times in two years — most recently in May — as it faced higher cost for beans, fuel and packaging.

J.M. Smucker said it is now cutting its U.S. coffee prices by 6 percent on average to reflect the lower prices it's paying for beans. The cuts primarily affect its Folgers, Dunkin' Donuts and Folgers Gourmet Selections lines.

Coffee prices have soared in recent years due to growing demand, harsh weather and speculation. Coffee futures, trading at $1.17 a pound in early 2009, rose to $1.45 in 2010, then to $2.40 in January of 2011. They peaked in April at nearly $3 and have fallen since to about $2.46.

When prices were on the rise, Starbucks Corp., Peet's Coffee and Tea Inc., Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. and Kraft Foods Inc., which makes Maxwell House and Yuban, all raised their prices.

It's unclear whether any of those companies will follow J.M. Smucker in cutting prices as their costs mellow.

Kraft declined to comment on whether it would follow suit. Starbucks did not respond to requests for comment.

J.M. Smucker's cuts won't make up for all its recent hikes. It increased prices 4 percent in May 2010, another 9 percent that August, then 10 percent in February this year and 11 percent on top of that in May.

The company said Tuesday that it could not discuss the move in detail because it is in a so-called "quiet period" before it reports its earnings on Thursday. But it's expected to discuss prices then.

Shares of J.M. Smucker, based in Orville, Ohio, fell $1.02 Tuesday to close at $74.89.

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