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Latest cocoa stats reveal ‘higher than expected’ increase

By Lorraine Heller , 19-Apr-2010

North American cocoa bean grindings revealed a double-digit growth in the first quarter of 2010, the first gain since 2008, according to the latest statistics released from the National Confectioners Association (NCA).

NCA, a US-based trade association for the confectionery industry, on Thursday reported a 16.17 per cent increase in cocoa grindings from the first quarter last year, totalling 116,122 metric tons.

This increase of 16,160 was higher than anticipated, although industry analysts had expected an increase on last year.

“The previous year was very, very low and because we were starting from a low base we were expecting a recovery for 2010,” said Laurent Pipitone, senior statistician at the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO). “What did come as a surprise, though, was that the increase was higher than the expected 10-12 per cent,” he told ConfectioneryNews.com.

Industry demand rises

Cocoa grinding data is an indicator of demand from industry, with the product being used by manufacturers to create what are known as cocoa ‘semi-finished’ products: Cocoa butter, cocoa powder and cocoa liquor.

The North American increase is in line with recent data from Europe, which again revealed a hike – albeit single-digit – in cocoa grindings. The statistics from the European Cocoa Association (ECA) revealed an 8.1 per cent rise in Europe in the first quarter of this year, which marked the biggest first-quarter gain for the region in four years.

“Brazil is also showing an increase and we’re still waiting for news from Malaysia,” said Pipitone, adding that he expected another large rise next quarter, as the second quarter of last year was again very low. The second quarter data will be released by NCA in July.

Participants in the US statistics include, amongst others, ADM Cocoa, The Hershey Co, Barry Callebaut, Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, Mars Chocolate North America and Nestle Chocolate & Confectioners.

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