The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has met with London-based exchange NYSE Liffe to discuss coffee delivery delays which have infuriated trade houses and roasters trying to get supplies out of warehouses in Antwerp.
The FSA is considering an enquiry into Liffe following complaints from the coffee industry that the exchange is failing to meet its mandate as supplier of last resort, an industry source familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The FSA declined to comment.
A spokesman for NYSE Liffe, which is regulated by the FSA, said: As our regulators, we're in dialogue with the FSA on a regular basis, on all market matters.
The European Coffee Federation (ECF) contacted Liffe earlier this year about the rate at which warehouses release coffee, which is often slower than they take it in.
Commodities warehouses charge rents for storage, giving them the greater incentive to take in stock than move it back out.
A Belgian court on Friday ordered the speedy delivery of coffee by an Antwerp warehouse at the centre of controversy over delivery delays.
Antwerp's trade court decided warehouse Wilmarsdonk must deliver 20,000 60-kg bags, or 1,200 tonnes of coffee to Belgian-based trader Sucre Export S.A., within six working days of the court decision or incur a penalty of 1 euro per day per bag, court documents seen by Reuters showed.
The warehouse, which is a division of Port Real Estate NV and is licensed to store exchange certified coffee by both the ICE Futures and Liffe exchanges, declined to comment.
The certified coffee was taken up by Sucre against the exchange NYSE Liffe's November robusta coffee contract.
Sucre Export said it took legal action after being informed early in November that coffee could not be moved out of Wilmarsdonk until January 15, well after its commitments to deliver the coffee to customers.
Dealers said the normal expectation to move coffee after taking delivery against a Liffe contract is two to three weeks maximum.
The exchange wrote letters to both the ECF and the European Warehousekeepers Federation (EWF) in recent weeks, urging the organisations to resolve the delivery delays on certified robusta coffee or the exchange will introduce a minimum movement out requirement.
Warehouses can move out around 200 tonnes of coffee per day, at times a tiny fraction of stocks which can run into tens of thousands of tonnes, industry sources said.
Two proposals are now being considered to resolve the coffee delivery delays, one drawn up by the exchange and the other by the EWF, sources familiar with the matter said earlier this week.
(Additional reporting by Ben Deighton; editing by Keiron Henderson and Richard Mably)