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Ghanaian Cocoa Premium Said to Retreat as Producers Sell Beans

The premium buyers are willing to pay for cocoa from Ghana, the second-largest producer, fell in the past two weeks as growers sold, three people in the trade said.

Ghanaian beans from the 2011-12 crop started this month traded in Europe at 90 pounds ($141) to 100 pounds a metric ton above the futures price on the NYSE Liffe exchange in London, according to the people, who declined to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak to the media. That compares with 100 pounds on Sept. 21, three traders said at the time.

Producer selling was pressuring the cocoa market in London, Keith Flury, an analyst at Rabobank International in London, wrote in an e-mailed report today.

The cocoa crop in West Africa for the 2011-12 season may be similar to the 2010-11 harvest as favorable weather helps yields, reversing earlier forecasts for a smaller crop, Macquarie Group Ltd. said in a report dated yesterday.

“The market is fundamentally a lot less bullish than previously thought and the threat of large arrivals of West African crops could keep funds happily maintaining a net short position,” Kona Haque, an analyst at the bank, wrote in the report. Short positions are bets that prices will fall.

Ivorian beans in Europe were at 40 pounds to 70 pounds a ton above prices on NYSE Liffe, the people said. That compares with 40 pounds to 60 pounds on Sept. 21. Ivory Coast is the world’s largest producer of cocoa.

European cocoa butter, used to make chocolate, was at a ratio of 1 to 1.05 times the price on NYSE Liffe, the traders said. Cocoa butter accounts for as much as 20 percent of the weight of a chocolate bar, according to Commodities Risk Analysis LC, a cocoa research company based in New York.

Cocoa for December delivery fell 10 pounds, or 0.6 percent, to 1,711 pounds a ton at 3:39 p.m. in London.

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