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Cocoa Grind May Expand By 2.5% Next Season, ICCO Says

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July 1 (Bloomberg) -- Growth in cocoa grind, an indicator of demand for the beans, may slow to 2.5 percent next year, according to the International Cocoa Organization.

The increase for the 2010-11 season that starts in October would compare with a gain of 4 percent in the current season, Jan Vingerhoets, executive director of the London-based group, said in an interview today.

“This year we have a rebuilding of stockpiles but we cannot be sure that the rebuilding of stocks will continue at this level,” Vingerhoets said by phone.

The market may return to a surplus of 70,000 metric tons next year, with production rising 6 percent, he said. Cocoa output will lag behind usage by about 70,000 metric tons in the year through September, the ICCO said in May.

Growing conditions in the Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest producer, may benefit the crop and farmers are using more fertilizers, he said. Fertilizer imports in the West African nation doubled in 2009-2010 from the previous year, Vingerhoets said.

Cocoa production in the Ivory Coast was about 1.06 million tons for this season, as of last week, and another 60,000 to 90,000 tons may be added by the end of the season in September, he said.

Indonesia, the world’s third-largest producer of the chocolate ingredient, is “ready” to join the ICCO though doesn’t have a date, according to Vingerhoets. A committee of the Indonesian government has recommended it join the ICCO, he said. Lawmakers in the country’s parliament will have to ratify the agreement, Vingerhoets said. It would cost Indonesia about $170,000 to join, he said.

The Southeast Asian nation’s entry would take the number of ICCO members to 15 producing countries and boost their share in global exports to 95 percent from 80 percent, Vingerhoets said. Colombia, Jamaica, Sierra Leone and Costa Rica are considering joining, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: M. Shankar in London at mshankar@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net.

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