Ivory Coast faces challenges selling cocoa export contracts for the 2024/25 season. Multinational companies are urging the Ivory Coast to lower prices, which have risen due to a supply shortage caused by bad weather. This shortage has led to an increase in export contracts, but multinational buyers are hesitant. Nearly half of the world’s cocoa bean production comes from Ivory Coast. Together with neighbouring Ghana, Cameroon, and Nigeria, the four countries account for three-quarters of the global cocoa bean production.

Ivory Coast produces cocoa all year round, with two main harvests. The first, smaller harvest, known as the mid-crop, happens from April to September. The second, larger harvest, called the main crop, occurs from October to March. But a June forecast by Geo Intelligence had predicted that climate conditions associated with El Niño could strengthen into the 2023/24 Northern Hemisphere winter, which could spell trouble for the country’s main crop cocoa yields. Previous El Niño years have led to drier conditions in West Africa, curtailing cocoa yields in the region.

El Nino and La Nina are complex weather patterns resulting from variations in ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific. They exert significant influences on worldwide weather patterns. These climatic phenomena, collectively called the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle, disrupt the typical weather conditions in the Pacific Ocean.

Last week, Reuters reported Yves Brahima Kone, director general of the Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC) saying that the country expects a 25% drop from last year in cocoa arrivals for the current October-to-March main crop due to poor weather conditions. A shortage of coca supply from Ivory Coast, the world’s largest producer of cocoa, would have a significant impact on several industries as cocoa is a key ingredient in the production of chocolate and many other confectionery products. 

Some industries that could be impacted by a shortage of cocoa supply from the West African country include the chocolate, beverage and confectionary industries, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries, and agricultural, retail, supply chain and transportation industries.

However, the most conspicuous impact would happen within the chocolate industry. Cocoa stands as the primary ingredient in the crafting of chocolate, and any shortfall would trigger elevated prices across the spectrum of chocolate products, potentially resulting in limited availability of select items in 2024. Beyond chocolate, cacao plays an integral role in the production of snacks, biscuits, cakes, chocolate-infused beverages, cosmetics, some supplements and certain categories of alcoholic beverages. 

Among the prominent corporations that source their cocoa supply from Ivory Coast include Hershey (a prominent American chocolate manufacturer, known for Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups), Nestle (creators of Kit Kat and Milo), Mondelez (parent company of Cadbury, Toblerone, Milka, and Oreo, among others), and Barry Callebaut (one of the world’s largest suppliers of chocolate and cocoa products to the global food industry).

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