North American Cocoa Processing Jumps 12%, Tops Estimates

Cocoa processing in North America jumped 12 percent in the second quarter, topping estimates by analysts, as gains in the U.S. economy spur demand from chocolate makers.

Grindings, a measure of consumption, rose to 126,044 metric tons from 112,768 tons a year earlier, the Washington-based National Confectioners Association said today in a report on its website. On average, traders and analysts expected an increase of 4.4 percent to 117,762 tons, according to a Bloomberg survey. Processing rose 5.8 percent in the first quarter.

The U.S. economy will expend 2.3 percent to 2.6 percent this year and 3 percent to 3.5 percent in 2014, Federal Reserve officials have said. Chocolate sales climbed 6.3 percent in June from a year earlier, according to data from research company IRI compiled by Bloomberg Industries.

“The economy is improving, and that leads to more consumer discretionary income, which can be spent on candy bars and chocolate ice cream,” Sterling Smith, a futures specialist at Citigroup Inc. in Chicago, said in a telephone interview.

Cocoa for September delivery increased 2 percent to close at $2,347 a metric ton today on ICE Futures U.S. in New York. The price reached $2,352, the highest for a most-active contract since June 13. The commodity has climbed 6.5 percent in the past 12 months.

Companies including Hershey Co., Mars Inc. and Nestle SA were surveyed by the confectioner group.

The Singapore-based Cocoa Association of Asia said yesterday that the region’s grind climbed 2 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier. The Brussels-based European Cocoa Association said on July 15 that processing rose 6.1 percent.

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