Ivory Coast eyes position as top cocoa grinder
* Ivory Coast seeks to eventually grind all its cocoa
* Traders say incentives are favourable towards grinding
By Tim Cocks and Ange Aboa
SAN PEDRO, Ivory Coast, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast is on track to become the world's top cocoa grinder in the next few years as the West African state seeks more value from its raw materials exports.
Investments in cocoa processing facilities in the country, already the No. 1 grower of the main ingredient in chocolate, have pushed its share of the global grind up sharply since 2008 and could allow it to overtake the Netherlands for the top spot as early as next season.
"We're the world's biggest cocoa producer. We will also be the world's biggest grinder," said Ali Lakis, the director of cocoa export firm SAF Cacao, which handled a fifth of the beans arriving at the port of San Pedro so far this season.
Processing beans close to where they are grown is increasingly appealing to cocoa producers keen to cut costs. The government of Ivory Coast has set an initial goal of grinding half of the roughly 1.2 million tonnes it produces each year.
"We have to grind 100 percent of our cocoa. It's the only logical step. In 5-10 years time, I'm sure we'll achieve this," said Lakis. Continued...