Latin America keeps share of cocoa market

Updated: 2014-07-21 06:31

By JACK FREIFELDER in New York (China Daily USA)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

As the consumption of cocoa products in China and other Asian markets is on the rise, Latin American producers are expected to continue a steady, albeit small, presence in those markets, according to an official with the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO).

Michael Segal, information and media officer for the London-based ICCO, said that over the last decade there has been a "significant demand" for cocoa across a number of markets in Asia, a group that includes China, India, Thailand and Vietnam.

Brazil and Ecuador are the two major sources of cocoa production in the Americas, but Segal said there's "not a huge amount of traffic between Latin America and China" just yet. Other lesser-volume cocoa producers in Latin America include Colombia, Mexico and Peru.

"Most of the Latin American countries already have very strong markets near home, like local markets or North America,"Segal said. "So most of the product does not go anywhere as distant as China."

"Our most recent estimate of the apparent domestic cocoa consumption in China is 70,000 tons of cocoa products for the 2012/2013 year than ended September 30, and in the last 10 years that number has doubled," Segal said on July 11 in an interview with China Daily. " While China's increases are significant, they come from a very low base to begin with. If you look at per capita use of cocoa, it has a very long way to go.

"But the potential for growth in China is still enormous," he added.

Segal also said the higher-quality cocoa produced in some of the Latin American countries can be more expensive, which might make it "less attractive to a burgeoning market" like China.

Brazil and Ecuador are both expected to produce upward of 200,000 tons this growing season, per ICCO data.

An April Cocoa Market Update report by the World Cocoa Foundation said that year-over-year demand for cocoa has grown at or near 3 percent since 2008.

The report said: "One of the primary drivers of this increase is the growing middle class in China, India and Brazil. While Europe and North America are relatively mature markets, increasing discretionary household incomes in developing countries are a major factor in stable demand growth."

The Financial Times reported on June 19 that prices for cocoa "have jumped to near three-year highs" due in part to the increased demand across Asia.

"When we're talking about cocoa, we're talking about a range of uses and products — not just entirely chocolate," said Segal. "Between the cocoa bean and producing chocolate, there are a lot of intermediate and semi-finished products that are getting a lot more play in Asia. For the most part, Asia is the place in the world to find a developing cocoa market."

Africa produces the lion's share of the world's cocoa, and more than 70 percent of the 2013/2014 growing season's crop is set to be harvested from the continent, according to data from the ICCO.

North and South America account for 16 percent of global production and the combined regions of Asia/Oceania make up about 12 percent of the world's cocoa output.

Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire are the two biggest cocoa producers in the world, and ICCO forecasts call for their respective cocoa numbers to climb to 850,000 tons and 1.61 million tons during this year's growing season. Estimates for global cocoa production exceed 4 million tons.

Corinna Savage, a commodities analyst at United Kingdom-based research firm Mintec, told the Financial Times in a June interview that Côte d'Ivoire has seen "abundant rainfall" of late, which has increased expectations for the country's cocoa harvests.

A representative from Cargill Inc, a US-based multinational agribusiness firm, said that growing demand from new markets, including a number of countries in Asia is a common topic of conversation within the cocoa trade industry.

"Growing demand in Asia is fueled by a growing middle class and consumers that are beginning to look for chocolate or cocoa products," a Cargill representative said in a July 11 email to China Daily.

"While we expect that cocoa producing countries like those in South America may continue to grow their production, we still expect the two major cocoa producing countries today, Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, to continue to maintain their positions as the top producers and exporters of cocoa," the representative said.