Cocoa Processing to Rise by Least in 3 Years, Bank Says

Global cocoa bean processing this season will rise by 2.4 percent, the smallest gain in three years, according to Macquarie Group Ltd.

Bean grindings, an indication of demand, will reach 4 million metric tons in the 2011-12 marketing year started in October, the bank estimated in a report e-mailed today. Cocoa processing fell 6 percent in 2008-09 as global economies entered the worst recession since World War II, the bank said.

“At a time when the global economy is still struggling to recover to pre-2008 levels, especially in the major consumption hubs of Europe and North America, such a modest consumption growth should not come as a surprise,” Kona Haque, an analyst at the bank in London, wrote in the report.

Cocoa processing in Europe will see “minimal growth” from last season, she said. Grindings in the EU will total 1.499 million tons in 2011-12, up from 1.479 million tons in 2010-11, data from the bank show. Processing in the U.S. is forecast at 415,000 tons in 2011-12, up from 397,000 tons last season, according to the data.

“The rise in global grindings we expect this season is mainly due to expansion in origin, of which Ivory Coast will rise the most,” Haque said. Producing countries account for 43 percent of global grindings, up from 30 percent in the 1990s, she said. Ivory Coast is the world’s biggest cocoa grower.

Bean processing will rise 3 percent to 4.1 million tons in the 2012-13 season that starts in October, “as the economic outlook improves,” according to the report.

Cocoa Butter

Sales of cocoa butter, which accounts for as much as 20 percent of a chocolate bar, will remain stronger than those of cocoa powder, used in cookies and ice-cream, Haque said. Demand for cocoa powder is being driven by emerging markets, she said, adding that powder price gains have begun to stall.

“This could suggest that grinders are well covered and thus orders have been easing, or that supply availability has improved in response to the attractive prices over preceding months,” she said.

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