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West Africa set for another big cocoa season

Dakar, October 5, 2011

West African plantations will churn out huge amounts of cocoa during the early months of this season thanks to near-ideal growing weather, and the full harvest is likely to rival last year's record volumes.

The region produced a record of nearly 3.2 million tonnes of cocoa during the 2011-12 season that just ended, raising its share of the global market to about 75 percent from two-thirds.

The banner crop came despite a war in top grower Ivory Coast and was attributed mainly to ideal weather from the La Nina phenomenon -- a pocket of cooler-than-normal water in the Pacific -- which is expected to return this season.

The outlook could further dampen global cocoa futures prices and reinforce emerging expectations for a supply surplus during the 2011-12 season, which are slowly replacing earlier predictions of a small deficit.

The International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO) said last month it saw a possible balanced or surplus market in 2011-12, defying the market's consensus for a small deficit.

"Good rainfall in West Africa in August and reports of good pod counts suggest the 2011-12 crop could be better than initially anticipated by the market," Rabobank said in a research note.

Officials in West Africa's four main growers -- Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon -- have put out initial forecasts for the crop that add up to nearly 2.9 million tonnes, but they appear to be weighed down by a conservative outlook from Ghana. - Reuters




Tags: Africa | cocoa | Ivory Coast |

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