NYSE Liffe has revised its cocoa and coffee grading and storage rules to impose limits on how long warehouses can charge rent when delivery or transfer of stock is delayed, a document published on its website showed.
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Warehouse storage rents and load-out rates have sparked debate since the coffee and cocoa markets began copying controversial business models used in the metals markets. Metals warehouses have collected rents as delivery of physical supplies has been delayed for months.
Exchanges are taking action after hoarding activity has gone on for at least two years in coffee. Regulators have already stepped in to look at metals warehousing in Europe, and the exchanges are moving before regulators train their spotlight on the soft commodity markets as well.
The exchange's new rules, which become effective on April 1, force warehouses to stop charging rent for goods that have not been moved within 60 days after a request is made and require additional information to justify warehouse charges.
"Up until recently the pace you could get the goods out, whether it be coffee or cocoa, has been too slow to be commercially viable," said Jonathan Parkman, joint head of agriculture at brokerage Marex Spectron.
"By the introduction of this latest rule where warehouses will have to effectively move out all the coffee or cocoa within 60 days, that greatly increases the commercial flexibility for those taking delivery."
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Also under the new rules, warehouse keepers must inform the exchange of their maximum loading-in, weighing, sampling and re-bagging rates.
"Additional criteria will be introduced as part of the application/renewal process, which will require warehouse keepers to justify to the exchange that the proposed rates are reasonable and comparable with commercial charges levied for similar services," the notice said.
Traders and end-users said the additional information on rates and the 60-day limit were steps in the right direction, although they would prefer an even shorter time limit on the movement of goods.
"If I take delivery of a product, I think it should be available within 30 days," a European coffee roaster said.
"They are taking good steps to increase transparency on rates."
The changes follow Intercontinental Exchange's acquisition of NYSE Liffe, including the London-based cocoa and robusta coffee contracts in November, and will align Liffe's grading and warehouse keeping procedures with those of ICE.