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Rich Asplund

Cocoa Finishes Slightly Higher on Reduced Cocoa Supplies from the Ivory Coast

Sep ICE NY cocoa (CCU23) on Monday closed +2 (+0.06%), and Sep ICE London cocoa #7 (CAU23) closed +5 (+0.19%).

Cocoa prices Monday closed slightly higher, with London cocoa posting a 1-1/2 week high.   Reduced cocoa supplies from the Ivory Coast are bullish for prices after Ivory Coast farmers shipped 2.3 MMT of cocoa from Oct 1-July 23, down -4.2% y/y.  The Ivory Coast is the world's largest cocoa producer.  London cocoa also found support on British pound weakness (^GBPUSD) as the pound fell to a 2-week low Monday.  A weaker pound benefits cocoa priced in sterling.

Last Wednesday, NY cocoa rallied to a 12-year nearest-futures high.  The outlook for tighter future cocoa supplies is bullish for prices on news that 2023/24 Ivory Coast forward cocoa sales from Oct 1-July 7 fell -1.3 MMT (-13.3%) y/y.  Also, the Ivory Coast cocoa regulator, Le Conseil Cafe Cacao, said last Tuesday that the Ivory Coast is not making further forward sales of cocoa for export in the 2023/24 season.

Cocoa prices rallied over the past month due to the recent heavy rain in West Africa that has accelerated the spread of black pod disease, which causes cocoa pods to turn black and rot.  The spread of the disease from the extreme wet weather could result in lower cocoa crop quality and production.    

The recent surge in cocoa prices is beginning to curb demand.  The National Confectioners Association last Thursday reported that North American Q2 cocoa processing fell -12% y/y to 102,493 MT, the lowest for a Q2 in 15 years.  Also, the Cocoa Association of Asia reported that Asia Q2 cocoa grindings fell -6.5% y/y to 213,977 MT.   In addition, the European Cocoa Association on July 6 reported that European Q2 cocoa processing fell -5.7% y/y to a 2-year low of 343,283 MT.  Finally, Barry Callebaut, the world's biggest chocolate maker, reported that its sales volume fell -2.7% in the first nine months of the fiscal year ending May 31 as higher prices hurt sales.  

Tightness in current cocoa supplies is bullish for prices as ICE monitored cocoa inventories held in U.S. ports have steadily declined over the past two months to a 3-1/2 month low last Thursday.

Cocoa prices have support from concern that an El Nino weather event could undercut global cocoa production.  On June 8, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center said that sea surface temperatures across the equatorial Pacific Ocean had risen 0.5 degrees Celsius above normal, and wind patterns have changed to the point where El Nino criteria have been met.  Cocoa prices rallied to 12-year highs in 2016 after an El Nino weather event caused a drought that hampered global cocoa production.

An increase in London cocoa inventories is bearish for prices.  Certified cocoa stockpiles held in European port warehouses monitored by the ICE Futures Europe exchange to a record 173,780 MT (data from 2020) on July 12.

Larger cocoa supplies from Nigeria are bearish for cocoa prices after the June 27 news that Nigeria's May cocoa exports rose +65% y/y to 20,675 tons.  Nigeria is the world's fifth-largest cocoa bean producer.

The reopening of the global economy from the pandemic has boosted chocolate demand.  According to Nielsen data, for the 52 weeks that ended May 27, dollar sales of chocolate are up about 10% from the year-earlier period.  Also, researcher Euromonitor projects 2023 global chocolate confectionary sales will climb +5.8% this year to nearly $26 billion.

The International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) forecasts a global cocoa deficit for 2022/23 of -146,000 tons.  ICCO said, "The expectation of a supply deficit has been compounded with weather variations, especially in West Africa."

On the date of publication, Rich Asplund did not have (either directly or indirectly) positions in any of the securities mentioned in this article. All information and data in this article is solely for informational purposes. For more information please view the Barchart Disclosure Policy here.
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