Concerns over Indonesia's ageing plantations and disease in
Cameroon, as well as a forecast for record consumption, are behind expectations
of a second successive year of world production deficit.
Cocoa Organization late on Friday, in its first forecast for 2013-14, which
started in October, estimated world production falling 115,000 tonnes behind
This following a shortfall in 2012-13 too, which the ICCO upgraded
by 14,000 tonnes to 174,000 tonnes.
While production will grow this season, by 4.1% to 4.10m
tonnes, this will not be able to overtake consumption, seen growing by 2.5% to
a record 4.18m tonnes.
'Boosted pod setting'
The ICCO, in comments obtained by Agrimoney.com, highlighted
a strong start to the season in Ivory Coast, the top cocoa grower, where "the main
crop harvest started very strong, indeed stronger than anticipated, with record
arrivals week after week".
The rapid supplies reflected releases from stockpiles
built-up by farmers and traders who had, correctly, forecast higher prices,
besides being down to a strong harvest helped by above-average rains in May and
June which "boosted the pod setting".
Prospects for the, smaller, mid-crop are less certain, with
the organisation highlighting "mixed reports" over yields and quality, because
of drier-than-ideal weather in some regions.
Nonetheless, Ivory Coast supplies are seen rising by 101,000
tonnes, or 7.0%, to 1.55m tonnes this season.
'Vulnerable to pests
But Nigeria is expecting a slightly smaller crop, at 220,000
tonnes, thanks to an outbreak of black pod disease, which has caused even
bigger losses in neighbouring Cameroon.
Indeed, Cameroon output is set to fall by 15,000 tonnes to
210,000 tonnes, the ICCO said, noting that "an outbreak since November of the fungal
black pod disease that thrives in wet weather conditions has spread during the
prolonged rainfall in the Centre and South-West regions, the two main
Output in Indonesia, the third-ranked grower, will fall too,
down 10,000 tonnes to a 10-year low of 410,000 tonnes, a decline blamed on the impact
of unduly wet weather on a trees which, planted largely in the 1980s, are well past
"The country has been struggling to increase production in
recent years as most of its trees are ageing.
"They are consequently vulnerable to pests and diseases
which are hard to eradicate as a result of the vast network of smallholders."
Cocoa grinding volumes, meanwhile, are expected to grow, as "the
appetite for chocolate has returned in the mature markets and is still growing
in the emerging ones".
European grindings will grow by more than 2% to 1.61m tonnes
while, in Asia, Indonesian processing volumes will rise by 20,000 tonnes to 275,000
However, again, it is Ivory Coast which is expected to lead
the charge on grindings, cementing its place as the second biggest processing
country, behind the Netherlands, gained last season.
"This season, the main contributor to this [world
consumption] increase is anticipated to originate from Ivory Coast, where
grindings shot to an unprecedented level of 471,000 tonnes in 2012-13 and are
expected to continue growing in the current season."
Volumes are being helped by the opening of processing plant
in San Pedro.