EU Cocoa Processing May Have Been Bigger on Fuchs & Hoffmann

European cocoa-bean processing may have been bigger than reported in the third quarter because Fuchs & Hoffmann GmbH, a grinder in Germany that provided no figures for the period, was processing at full capacity.

Cocoa grinding in Europe fell 16 percent to 316,676 metric tons in the three months through September, the lowest for the period since 2005, the European Cocoa Association said Oct. 16. Processing may have been higher if unreported grindings were counted, Jonathan Parkman, co-head of agriculture at Marex Spectron Group in London, said. Marex Spectron was allowing for a further 11,000 tons in its own calculations, he said.

Fuchs & Hoffmann, owned by Bergisch Gladbach, Germany-based Kruger GmbH & Co., is operating its factory at full capacity, Managing Director Olaf Reichardt said by phone on Oct. 19. He declined to disclose the plant’s annual processing capacity. The company opted in July to stop reporting the figures because the European Cocoa Association wouldn’t publish data by country and because of previous reporting errors, Reichardt said.

“The factory is running at full capacity,” he said. “We are not slowing down. In the last three years, I can show you at least five examples that raise doubts as to whether the figures were reported correctly.”

National Associations

The ECA has been publishing cocoa-processing figures for the last 10 years, according to Isabelle Adam, general secretary at the Brussels-based industry group. Data from companies is reported by the ECA after being compiled by an independent third party, Adam said in an e-mailed response to questions by Bloomberg News on Oct. 17. The ECA bases some of the grind data on numbers provided by national associations. Fuchs & Hoffmann usually reports to the Association of the German Confectionery Industry, or BDSI.

“We would immediately return to reporting to the BDSI under the condition that the ECA starts to publish a breakdown by country,” Reichardt said. He also said corrections by the ECA to processing figures cast doubt on the accuracy of reporting practices by all companies.

Third-quarter grind figures were drawn from 23 companies, the ECA said. In the previous period, Fuchs & Hoffmann and Ludwig Schokolade were on the list of reporting companies even though Ludwig hasn’t processed since shutting its factory in 2009, Ludwig said in an e-mailed response to questions.

“Ludwig directly has not been reporting to us since 2009, but their figures were included in the Fuchs & Hoffmann figures since then, as both belong to the Kruger group,” Torben Erbrath, a managing director of BDSI, said in an e-mailed response to questions on Oct. 17.

Cocoa climbed as much as 2.4 percent in London trading on Oct. 16, when the European grinding figures were published. Traders expected grindings to fall about 20 percent, according to Marex Spectron. The beans for March delivery climbed 0.3 percent to 1,611 pounds ($2,584) a ton by 2:20 p.m. on NYSE Liffe in London, reversing a loss of as much as 1.3 percent earlier today.

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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