Ecuador, Latin America’s second-biggest cocoa producer, will lose about a quarter of its crop this year as floods in the South American nation’s coastal region damage plants and delay harvests, an export group said.
Cocoa-bean production will likely decline by about 40,000 metric tons to 130,000 tons and the country’s first harvest will be postponed two months until June, Luis Acosta, chief executive officer at Exportaciones Acmansa CA, said in an telephone interview from Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Ecuador, which has been producing the raw ingredient used to make chocolate for more than 500 years, declared a state of emergency in five provinces this month after above-average rainfall in the coastal region and southern Andean foothills washed away roads and houses and damaged more than 34,000 hectares (84,000 acres) of crops. Rains are expected to last through May, according to the national weather service.
The harvest “will be much less than last year,” Acosta, who runs the country’s fifth-largest cocoa exporter, said. “It will begin in June if the rains stop, for the time being there is very little cocoa.”
Ecuador exported 164,000 metric tons of cocoa beans last year, according to the country’s National Cocoa Exporters Association, known as Anecacao. The London-based International Cocoa Organization, representing 15 producing nations and 29 consuming countries, predicted global output of 3.96 million tons and demand of 3.99 million tons on Feb. 29.
Brazil is Latin America’s largest producer of cocoa. Ecuador is the world’s top grower of flavored beans used in fine chocolate.
Cocoa futures for May delivery dropped 2.6 percent to $2,295 a metric ton as of 3:19 p.m. in New York.