Cocoa Traders Less Optimistic on Ivory Coast 2013-14 Bean Sales

Cocoa traders in Europe and the U.S. are less optimistic than the Ivory Coast about bean sales from the next crop in the world’s leading producer and exporter.

Ivory Coast sold 1.05 million metric tons of cocoa from the 2013-14 harvest by the end of July, two people with direct knowledge of the sales said yesterday, asking not to be named because the information isn’t public. Sales were estimated at an average of 845,000 tons in a Bloomberg survey of 15 traders, brokers and analysts published on Aug. 9, with the high at 1 million tons and the low at 700,000 tons.

The West African nation accounts for about 40 percent of global cocoa output. Its 2013-14 harvest that starts in October will fall to 1.42 million tons from 1.455 million tons this year, according to Macquarie Group Ltd., Australia’s largest investment bank. Cocoa climbed 14 percent this year in London.

“It doesn’t feel as if they sold a million tons,” Jonathan Parkman, co-head of agriculture at Marex Spectron Group in London, said by phone yesterday. “It would be a number which would be surprisingly high given this year’s crop. It would be a strangely aggressive policy for them to be taking to have achieved one million tons by that period.”

Ivory Coast implemented changes to the cocoa sector last year that included selling part of the crop before harvesting starts and setting a fixed price to be paid to farmers. The sales are made through auctions run by Abidjan-based industry regulator Le Conseil du Cafe-Cacao, known as CCC.

Cocoa for shipment from October to December was for sale at yesterday’s morning auction at a minimum price of 1,276 CFA francs ($2.57) a kilogram (2.2 pounds), CCC data showed. That equates to a premium of 27 pounds ($41.76) a ton over the futures for December delivery on NYSE Liffe in London.

“I’m not sure too many people have changed their sales numbers as a result of” the Ivory Coast sales figure, Parkman said. “I don’t think there’s enough evidence to change people’s minds greatly.”

Cocoa for December delivery rose 0.7 percent yesterday to 1,655 pounds a ton on NYSE Liffe.

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