(Starbucks and coffee prices report updated with clarification about John Culver's remarks.)
SEATTLE ( TheStreet) -- Starbucks ( SBUX) has already contracted its coffee purchases for the remainder of fiscal 2011, locking in its costs, as the commodity trades near decades-long highs.
In December CEO Howard Schultz called the 50% spike in coffee futures "tragic," blaming financial speculators for the run-up in prices. John Culver, president of Starbucks Coffee International, said "we think that these prices are not based on facts given there is no supply problem," according to reports in Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger published Friday. "Speculators are at work here." "We do believe, however, that prices are going to fall again. For this year, we have suspended our coffee buys for the moment but we watch the market closely," he said According to a Starbucks spokesman, Culver's remarks were mistranslated somewhat. Culver's point, according to the spokesman, was that Starbucks had already locked in its coffee costs for 2011, and had already contracted to buy the main ingredient needed for its coffee operations, not that it had actually suspended purchases.
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