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Rich Asplund

Cocoa Prices Push Higher on Smaller Cocoa Supplies from the Ivory Coast

March ICE NY cocoa (CCH24) on Thursday closed +68 (+1.62%), and Mar ICE London cocoa #7 (CAH24) closed +71 (+2.03%).

Cocoa prices on Thursday rose to 1-week highs and rallied for a third session on smaller cocoa supplies from the Ivory Coast.  The Ivory Coast government reported Tuesday that Ivory Coast farmers shipped 870,510 MT of cocoa to ports from October 1 to January 7, down -35% from the same time last year.  The Ivory Coast is the world's largest cocoa producer.

Also, on the bullish side, ICE-monitored cocoa inventories held in U.S. ports posted a 2-3/4 year low of 4,109,769 bags Thursday.

On Monday, NY cocoa dropped to a 7-week low, and London cocoa slumped to a 2-1/4 month low after forecasts for rain this week in the Ivory Coast resulted in long liquidation by funds.

On November 30, nearest-futures (CCZ23) cocoa posted a 46-year high as continuous rain limited fieldwork and encouraged crop disease on West African farms, which provide most of the world's cocoa supply.  It has also stoked concern that current cocoa production cannot replenish supplies to avoid a global deficit.  According to Maxar Technologies, the total precipitation in West Africa since the rainy season started May 1 has been more than double the 30-year average.

The outlook for continued tight cocoa supplies is bullish for prices.  On December 1, the Ivory Coast's regulator halted forward sales for the 2023-24 Ivory Coast mid-crop, which starts April 1, 2024, so the nation's production forecast can be reviewed.  The halt adds to the tumult of the region's cocoa supplies, and the impact could multiply if the halt extends into the next season.

Concern about lower cocoa production in Ghana, the world's second-largest producer, is bullish for cocoa prices.  Ghana's cocoa regulator said on August 16 that some of its cocoa farmers are unlikely to fulfill some of their cocoa contracts for a second season.  Ghana's regulator postponed 44,000 MT of cocoa shipments to future seasons due to a lack of supplies.  Ghana's 2022/23 cocoa crop is now expected to be around 683,000 MT, a 13-year low and 24% below initial estimates of 850,000 MT, as a lack of fertilizers and black pod disease hurt cocoa yields.  

Cocoa prices remain supported by concern that an El Nino weather event could undercut global cocoa production.  Cocoa prices rallied to 12-year highs in 2016 after an El Nino weather event caused a drought that hampered global cocoa production.

On the bearish side, soaring cocoa prices are undercutting global cocoa demand.  The National Confectioners Association reported on October 24 that Q3 North American cocoa grindings fell -18% y/y to 97,881 MT, weaker than expectations of a -12% y/y decline and the smallest grindings figure for a Q3 in 15 years.  The Cocoa Association of Asia reported on October 23 that Asia Q3 cocoa grindings fell -8.5% y/y to 211,468 MT.  The European Cocoa Association reported on October 12 that European Q3 cocoa processing fell -0.9% y/y to 366,298 MT, an improvement from the -5.7% y/y decline in Q2.

The International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) reported that global 2022/23 cocoa production increased +2.4% y/y to 4.938 MMT, and global cocoa grindings increased +0.2% y/y to 5.005 MMT.  ICCO estimated end-of-season 2022/23 global cocoa stocks at 1.707 MMT and the cocoa stocks-to-grinding ratio at a 7-year low of 34.5%.  ICCO estimated the global cocoa deficit for 2022/23 at -99,000 MT. 

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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