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Ivorian Cocoa Crop to Be 1.385 Million Tons, Ecobank Says

Sept. 16 (Bloomberg) -- The cocoa crop in Ivory Coast, the world’s largest grower, will fall from a record 1.5 million metric tons to 1.385 million tons in the season starting next month, according to Lome, Togo-based lender Ecobank Transnational Inc.

About 1.414 million tons of cocoa beans were at ports by Sept. 4, as production, which benefited from good weather and maintenance, beat the previous record of 1.407 million tons set in 2003-04, according to the bank report e-mailed today.

“Given that the country is unlikely to experience the same ideal weather for a second consecutive season, Ecobank expects production to remain broadly stable at 1.385 million tons in 2011-12,” Edward George, soft commodities specialist at the bank in London, wrote in the report.

Black pod disease in eastern cocoa regions remains a concern, George said, adding good weather at the end of August and the beginning of September helped this year’s crop.

The 2010-11 harvest benefited from “careful tending of aging trees, improved spraying and ideal weather for much of the season,” he said.

Cocoa supplies will remain “abundant” in the 2011-12 season after a global surplus of 325,000 tons in the current crop year, Ecobank said. “We expect cocoa prices to soften throughout the remainder of the year.”

Cocoa for December was little changed at 1,809 pounds ($2,861) a ton by 12:13 p.m. on NYSE Liffe in London. Cocoa for December delivery advanced $9, or 0.3 percent, to $2,800 a ton on ICE Futures U.S. in New York.

To contact the reporter on this story: Isis Almeida in London at ialmeida3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Deane at jdeane3@bloomberg.net

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