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Indonesia’s Sulawesi Cocoa Exports More Than Double in April

Cocoa-bean shipments from Indonesia’s main growing region on Sulawesi island more than doubled in April, climbing for the first month this year, after exporters released stockpiles as harvests may peak.

Overseas shipments from Central and South Sulawesi provinces jumped 126 percent to 7,912 metric tons last month from March, according to data released today by the Indonesia Cocoa Association. Sales were 1,570 tons in April last year.

Increased shipments from the world’s third-biggest producer of the chocolate ingredient may help to halt the 5 percent gain in prices in New York this year, potentially easing the cost for Hershey Co. and Nestle SA. Ivory Coast and Ghana are the largest and second-biggest cocoa producers.

Exports may climb further as the country’s main harvest season may peak this month or in June, La Odi Mandong, secretary at the association’s South Sulawesi branch, said by phone from Makassar.

The two provinces represent about 75 percent of bean exports and output from Indonesia. Shipments from the region in the first four months of the year dropped 45 percent from a year earlier to 18,826 tons, association data showed.

July-delivery Cocoa futures fell 3.9 percent to $2,219 a ton on the ICE Futures U.S. in New York yesterday.

Indonesia’s cocoa production may drop more than 11 percent in the next five years to below 400,000 tons as farmers switch acres to more lucrative oil-palm and rubber crops, Zulhefi Sikumbang, chairman of the cocoa association, said March 16.

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