Ivorian Cocoa Flows Again

Port of San Pedro
Port of San Pedro. Source: financeasia.com

Just a week ago, the first cargo ship left the port of San Pedro laden with cocoa. The chocolate industry can breathe easier again and things, at least related to cocoa, are returning to normal again. That’s good news for cocoa farmers. When the embargo was put in place, the beans already sold to traders simply ended up at the port. But traders quickly stopped purchasing beans from  farmers who had few options but to store them at their farm. More enterprising farmers near the Ghanian border smuggled their crop to Ghana to get paid.

A twist in this story is the news that more Ivorian cocoa is now also headed for the United States. Apparently, the higher prices in Indonesia have made Ivorian cocoa more attractive to U.S. buyers.

At the same time, Ghana announced a record crop of 930,000 tons for the current cocoa year. At the end of the main season, the COCOBOD had purchased 860,000 tons. The agency expects to purchase another 70,000 tons during the light season.

Yaw Adu-Ampomah, deputy chief executive of COCOBOD, credits the increased use of fertilizer and chemicals to combat pests and diseases for the increase in the harvest. But the above mentioned smuggling clearly added to that total. COCOBOD estimates about 30,000 tons were smuggled from the Côte d’Ivoire, but the total may well be higher.

That in turn will also affect the prediction for the light season crop. Now that cocoa exports from their neighbor have resumed, there will be a significant drop in cross-border smuggling.

Still, the Ghanian harvest is the largest ever in Ghana’s history and shows that the COCOBOD’s goal of 1 million tons is more feasible than it seemed even three years ago.

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