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Cocoa Bean Deliveries to Ivory Coast’s Ports Seen Falling 4.4%

Deliveries of cocoa beans for export from ports in Ivory Coast, the world’s largest producer, fell 4.4 percent this season, according to Ecobank Transnational Inc.

About 1.315 million metric tons of cocoa were delivered to ports from the start of the season in October to Aug. 12, the Lome, Togo-based lender said in a report e-mailed today. Based on the bean arrival figures, the 2011-12 crop would be 1.36 million tons, the bank said in the report. That is down from a record 1.51 million tons in 2010-11, according to data from the London-based International Cocoa Organization.

Dry weather in growing regions in West Africa may reduce the next cocoa crop, which will be harvested starting in October, the bank said. The southwestern Soubre region in Ivory Coast, which produces about 300,000 tons of cocoa a year, got less rainfall than average, according to data from the country’s National Meteorological Service.

“With cocoa trees in their critical flowering period, the poor weather could impair the development of the main crop, although hopes for better rains in August could mitigate the impact,” Edward George, a soft commodities specialist at the bank, said in the report.

Production in the 2012-13 season may be 1.31 million tons, he said, citing the industry regulator Conseil de Cafe Cacao. The 2012-13 season should have a “small global deficit,” according to the report. That may boost prices in “coming months,” George said. Futures in London have climbed 17 percent this year.

In Cameroon, cocoa exports for the season fell to 170,000 tons from 193,000 tons in the same period a year earlier, Ecobank estimates. The 2011-12 crop there is set to fall short of last year’s 240,000 tons, it said.

“Cocoa exports have been falling for nearly a year, owing to poor weather earlier in the season, caterpillar infestation in the main Central and South-West regions, and the decision by some farmers to withhold beans from the market in expectation of better prices,” George said, referring to Cameroon.

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