'Record' year for cocoa crops

By Catherine Boal

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cocoa, Chocolate, Côte d'ivoire, Cocoa bean

The International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO) has revised its gloomy
cocoa estimate of a 5,000 tonne deficit to predict a global surplus
of 80,000 tonnes of cocoa in the coming year, assuring
manufacturers of a steady supply.

In the ICCO's quarterly cocoa bulletin, the trade organisation announced a 'record' year for cocoa production and said favourable weather conditions were an important factor in explaining the bumper crop.

The report comes in the wake of recent strike action in Cote d'Ivoire and will put to rest fears among chocolate manufacturers that cocoa supplies could diminish due to both the unrest and outbreaks of the swollen shoot virus harming crops in the region.

World cocoa production for 2005/06 rose 6 per cent to 3.592 million tonnes with Africa accounting for 72 per cent of supplies.

The Cote d'Ivoire area is the world's largest cocoa producer, generating 1.387mt last year.

Good weather conditions and regular rainfall during peak growing times spurred crops and mitigated the disruption caused by strikes which were called by farmers union Anaproci seeking greater financial support for growing co-operatives.

The strikes were suspended at the end of last month and attempts to find a solution to appease both growers and government are ongoing.

The ICCO report stated: "It is worth nothing that at the opening of the current 2006/07 campaign, the Government of Côte d'Ivoire strived towards its effort in reducing the level of taxation in the cocoa sector but not as much as requested by Ivorian farmers' unions."

Global exports of cocoa beans in the January to March period this year reached 657,239 tonnes while imports over those three months were 905,437 tonnes.

Global exports of chocolate and chocolate products grew 9.7 per cent year on year to 902,555 tonnes and imports rose 16.3 per cent to 897,658 tonnes.

According to the ICCO, the world's biggest cocoa consumers are the US, devouring 781,000 tonnes last year. The next largest, Germany, consumed 278,000 tonnes.

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