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Cocoa, skyrocketing prices for imports by sea, more expensive chocolate

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Cocoa, skyrocketing prices for imports by sea, more expensive chocolate

There is global warming of the planet, which in Africa means drought. But there is also the age of the plants which have not been replaced over the years and which are now dying, reducing cultivation and therefore the production of the fruit. The result is that the price per ton of cocoa beans in one year has increased by 135 percent and shows no sign of decreasing: 6,400 dollars, when twelve months ago it was worth around 3 thousand. And the alarm that starts from the main producing countries of West Africa, Ghana and Ivory Coast which alone absorb around 90 percent of world production, reaches the Italian ports that manage the import of the product and, from here, to the factories called to process the precious fruit, transforming it into chocolate. The increasingly real risk is a progressive increase in the cost of chocolate bars or Easter eggs that will end up in consumers’ homes, also due to the parallel increase in the cost of sugar.

Precisely the concrete fear of supply cuts has brought the alarm to the New York Stock Exchange, with futures continuing to rise, after recording the largest weekly jump since 1999. A negative spiral caused precisely by drought and disease of plants that devastated crops with the consequence of increased costs for chocolate producers, inevitably passed on to consumers.

In particular, farmers in Ivory Coast, the world‘s leading producing country, shipped 1.12 million tonnes of cocoa to ports from 1 October to 18 February, down by -33% compared to the same period last year. Meanwhile, the Ghana Cocoa Board has cut its production estimate in second-leading Ghana for 2023/24 to a 14-year low of 650,000-700,000 tonnes.

“We are facing a real crisis in the sector due to a combination of factors, but one of the biggest is climate change. Fundamentally there are many problems that we have thought about for a long time, namely the lack of sustainability, and particularly in Ghana, of ancient trees. And this is why there have been such devastating losses” explained Tedd George, Chief Narrative Officer of Kleos Advisory, during a debate on CNBC Africa.

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The journey of cocoa begins precisely in Africa, Ghana and the Ivory Coast. It is here that the beans of the cocoa plant are harvested which, after an initial treatment, are placed in jute bags of 60 kilograms each and then stowed inside the containers, taking great care not to be attacked by humidity. Every year over 100 thousand tons arrive from Africa to Italy (110 in 2021), in approximately 4,500 containers (of 25 tons each) in the main landing ports, which are the Ligurian ones of Genoa, La Spezia and Vado Ligure, today understandably alarmed. Before arriving at the confectionery factories, however, the containers stop at the intermediate terminals, are opened and the product “processed”, i.e. freed from all impurities before final delivery in packages of one ton each to the factories.

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