Jan. 24 (Bloomberg) -- The cocoa crop in Ivory Coast, the world’s largest producer, will rise 5.4 percent this season, with bean deliveries at the country’s main ports running ahead of last year, according to Amsterdam-based trader Continaf BV.
Output in the West African nation probably will be 1.55 million metric tons in the 12 months started Oct. 1, said the trader, which has a factory in Abidjan. That compares with 1.47 million tons a year earlier. Ivorian bean arrivals are the biggest since at least 2004-05, KnowledgeCharts, a unit of researcher Commodities Risk Analysis estimates.
Cocoa rallied 21 percent in New York last year partly on speculation dry weather would damage crops in West Africa. The commodity, the second-best performer in the Standard & Poor’s gauge of 24 raw materials, also gained as demand rebounded. Supplies will fall short of usage by 105,000 tons, estimates Macquarie Group Ltd. Ivory Coast is gathering its main crop and a smaller harvest, the mid-crop, runs from April to September.
“Plenty of scattered showers were reported during the last two weeks,” Continaf said in its January report. “This ensures the trees are not losing leaves and the mid-crop development remains favorable. This is quite abnormal during dry season.”
While bean deliveries in Ivory Coast started to slow and will continue to do so until the end of January, arrivals are already running ahead of last year’s, the trader said. A vessel carrying 20,757 tons of preslung bagged cocoa left Ivory Coast last week, according to Continaf. That was a record for beans loaded onto a single vessel. The ship was headed for the U.S.
“Quality of incoming cocoa is still stable and well in line with expectations,” Continaf said. “Bean counts are well below 100, whereas mold and humidity levels remain solid.”
Ivory Coast will only allow cocoa exports from the mid-crop when there are a maximum of 120 beans per 100 grams (0.2 pound), according to the Ministry of Finance. Beans from the shorter harvest are usually smaller than those from the main gathering.
Farmers in Ghana, the second-biggest producer of the beans used to make chocolate, will harvest 835,000 tons of cocoa in 2013-14, Continaf estimated. That’s above a previous forecast for 825,000 tons. Industry regulator Ghana Cocoa Board, or Cocobod, said this week that output may rise to about 850,000 tons, beating a target of 830,000 tons.
While a strike by cocoa carriers in Ghana has ended, the backlog of shipments is estimated to be one to two months, according to the Continaf report. A sliding Ghanaian currency means the price paid to farmers in Ivory Coast is now higher than in Ghana, which “may encourage smuggling to Ivory Coast.”
Ghana pays a fixed price to farmers of 3,392 cedis ($1,396) a ton, according to Cocobod. Ivorian farmers receive a minimum price of 750 CFA francs a kilogram ($1,557 a ton), stipulates industry regulator Le Conseil du Cafe-Cacao.
Nigeria will harvest 225,000 tons this season and Cameroon 230,000 tons, Continaf estimated. West Africa accounts for about 70 percent of the world’s supplies, according to the International Cocoa Organization in London.
Cocoa for March delivery slid 0.3 percent to $2,783 a ton by 10:30 a.m. on ICE Futures U.S. in New York.
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