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West African Cocoa Premiums Said to Drop on Better Crop Outlook

Buyers of cocoa from Ivory Coast and Ghana, the top producers, are paying a smaller premium for beans as the crop outlook improved and demand is still weak, according to three traders with direct knowledge of the sales.

Beans from Ivory Coast in the European market cost 35 pounds ($56) to 40 pounds a metric ton more than futures on NYSE Liffe in London, said the traders, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak to the media. That’s down from 40 pounds to 55 pounds at the end of October. Harvesting usually starts that month.

Cocoa from Ghana is 75 pounds to 85 pounds above the exchange price, the traders said. That compares with 85 pounds to 90 pounds over the same period. Cocoa climbed 4 percent in London last year on speculation harvests would decline.

Cocoa supplies will about match demand in the current marketing year for 2012-13 that ends Sept. 30, Cargill Inc. estimated in November. Production was 90,000 tons higher than consumption in the 2011-12 season because of weaker demand, the International Cocoa Organization in London said in a statement on Nov. 30.

Cocoa for March delivery rose 0.3 percent yesterday to 1,433 pounds ($2,304) a ton on NYSE Liffe.

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