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Crop losses to disease force Ghana cocoa grinders to turn to imports


Some Ghana cocoa processors are turning to imported beans to meet their needs, thanks to a dent to production from disease, the International Cocoa Organization said, as it cut its forecast for the world output surplus.


The intergovernmental group slashed by 40,000 tonnes to 830,000 tonnes its forecast for Ghana’s cocoa production in 2018-19, which ends next month, citing the “devastating effect of the cocoa swollen shoot virus disease and unfavourable weather conditions”.


While the country’s harvest would remain well above the 300,000 tonnes domestic grinders need, some processors are nonetheless being forced to look abroad for available supplies.


“Low production levels are envisaged to cause bottlenecks in Ghana’s grinding activities,” the ICCO said, adding that “the drawdown in production has led some processors to import beans to meet their needs.”


Furthermore, the shortfall in supplies has meant that “about 50,000 tonnes of cocoa export contracts which cannot be fulfilled from the current crop have been postponed to the next season”.


‘Rising trajectory’

The ICCO’s Ghana cocoa output forecast would also come in below a government forecast of 900,000 tonnes.


Nonetheless, the organization raised its expectations for overall world cocoa production, by 15,000 tonnes to 4.85m tonnes, citing improved hopes for countries including Cote d’Ivoire, for which the harvest estimate was upgraded by 20,000 tonnes to 2.22m tonnes.


“Côte d’Ivoire continues to reinforce its status as the premier cocoa producer and is anticipated to account for 46%... of world cocoa production for the 2018-19 season.


“The rising trajectory has largely been driven by thousands of small plantations that have developed and have now come on stream,” the ICCO said, also lifting its forecast for Cameroon’s production.


In South America, the estimate for Ecuadorian output was raised by 12,000 tonnes to 310,000 tonnes.


“Increased plantings and harvests of CCN-51 variety are supporting the country’s upward trend in production.”


Bigger grind

However, the forecast for world grindings was raised by more than that for production, with an upgrade of 33m tonnes to 4.78m tonnes.


The revisions narrowed to 18,000 tonnes the estimate for the world production surplus this season.


“The industry has generally benefitted from low international prices,” the ICCO said, seeing particular strength in the Asian grind, which was estimated at 1.17m tonnes - an upgrade of 66,000 tonnes from the previous estimate, in May, and representing growth of 11% year on year.


“The rise seen in grindings has been facilitated by the expansion of processing facilities in the region,” the organisation said, hiking its forecast for Malaysia alone by 40,000 tonnes to 300,000 tonnes.


The ICCO noted official data showing , that in the April-to-June quarter, “cocoa processing increased in the country by 45% [year on year] to 83,449 tonnes”.

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