June 5, 2012 / 4:03 PM / 7 years ago

Ivory Coast cocoa prices slip on weak export demand

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Cocoa farmgate prices in Ivory Coast’s principal growing regions declined last week as falling prices on the futures market sapped export demand, farmers and buyers said on Tuesday.

Cocoa bags are seen in a warehouse in Ivory Coast, September 22, 2008. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

Mid-crop harvesting in the world’s top cocoa producer is beginning to pick up after a slow start brought on by months of dry weather, with peak output expected by July.

A purchases manager for an international exporter said the average price at the port of Abidjan was between 720 CFA francs per kg and 760 CFA/kg, down from 780-800 CFA/kg the previous week.

“The prices have fallen at the port, because in general the prices were irregular on the world market. Only the grinders are going full steam. The bean exporters are keeping calm because the volumes are not interesting,” he said.

Cocoa futures in London and New York have fallen roughly 10 percent since mid-May as broad selling hit commodities markets on concerns about the world economy.

Prices at Ivory Coast’s second port, San Pedro, fell to 780 CFA/kg from 800 CFA/kg the week before, according to another exporter.

Weak prices at the ports trickled down to farmers across the country last week.

In the western region of Soubre, in the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said the average price fell to about 600 CFA/kg from 650 CFA/kg the previous week.

“It wasn’t a problem of quality but instead a (price) drop in the buyer warehouses. The beans going out are good, however the buyers are not raising prices,” said Koffi Kouame, who farms near Soubre.

In the centre-western region of Daloa, which accounts for a quarter of Ivory Coast’s national output, farmers said prices were between 500-600 CFA/kg, from 550-650 CFA/kg the week before.

“The buyers have given as their reason the drop in the price at the port of Abidjan. The exporters don’t have many buyers on the ground, and that has an impact on competition,” said Marcel Aka, who farms near Daloa.

In the western region of Duekoue, farmers said average prices were 550-575 CFA/kg, from 600-625 CFA/kg.

“They’re telling us that the prices are retreating at the port of San Pedro due to a drop on the world market,” said farmer Amara Kone.

In the southern region of Aboisso, farmers said the average price was 550-575 CFA/kg from 600 CFA/kg the previous week, because buyers were reluctant to pay more after the fall at the port of Abidjan.

Exporters are predicting a smaller mid-crop than last year, due mainly to poor weather. The International Cocoa Organisation has projected total Ivorian output for the 2011-2012 season at 1.35 million tonnes, down from last year’s record harvest of around 1.5 million tonnes.

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