Bloomberg News

West African Cocoa Areas to Get Rain as Harvest Starts

May 15, 2012

West Africa, the world’s largest cocoa-producing region, will get rains over the next seven days, potentially helping pod development as harvesting of the smaller of two annual crops starts in Ivory Coast, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Most of top growers Ivory Coast and Ghana will get 30 millimeters (1.2 inches) to 50 millimeters of rain by May 22, data on the NOAA website show. Some parts of both countries will get 75 millimeters to 100 millimeters, the data show.

Rains may favor pod development as harvesting of the mid- crop in top producer Ivory Coast starts after a delay of about a month. The mid-crop, which usually starts in April, has begun and is off to a slow start this year, Laurent Pipitone, director of the economic and statistics division at the London-based International Cocoa Organization said today by phone.

“In West Africa, we are seeing an escalation of wet weather which is deemed beneficial for the coming mid and future main crops and a respectable arrival figure for Ivory Coast,” Drew Geraghty, a broker at ICAP Futures LLC in Jersey City, New Jersey, wrote in a report e-mailed yesterday.

Cocoa delivered to ports for export from Ivory Coast reached 15,000 metric tons over the past week, beating last year’s level, according to ICAP. Ivory Coast and Ghana accounted for 69 percent of global production last season, the ICCO said.

Divided Views

Global cocoa demand will be 40,000 tons to 50,000 tons higher than supplies in the current season, according to Blommer Chocolate Co., a Chicago-based processor. That is smaller than the 71,000 tons shortage the ICCO has forecast and bigger than a deficit of 19,000 tons estimated by broker Marex Spectron Group. Rabobank International forecasts a surplus of 14,000 tons.

“The industry seems to be somewhat divided today as to whether we will have surplus or a deficit based on several factors,” Kip Walk, Blommer Chocolate’s corporate director of cocoa and sustainability, said in an interview last week. “I would view that there is still a greater risk of a slight deficit, but we are getting to numbers that are close to break even.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Isis Almeida in London at Ialmeida3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at Ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net.


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