June 12, 2019 / 1:02 PM / 6 months ago

Ghana, Ivory Coast halt 2020/21 cocoa bean sales as minimum price up for discussion

A farmer opens a cocoa pod at a farm in Toumodi, Ivory Coast October 13, 2018. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon/File Photo

ACCRA/ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Ghana and Ivory Coast have suspended forward sales of cocoa beans for the 2020/21 season as buyers and sellers are set to discuss a minimum price proposal, industry sources said.

The two West African nations account for nearly two thirds of global output, yet they exert limited influence over international cocoa prices, which have stayed low in recent years due to overproduction.

Representatives from the world’s top two cocoa producers are meeting in Ghana’s capital Accra to discuss farmers’ living standards. The governments are proposing a common floor price meant to address farmer incomes, which they complain are extremely low relative to the money made by big cocoa traders.

The two countries agreed to harmonize their sales system earlier this year in an effort to exert more influence on international prices. [nL5N2075ZH]

Ivory Coast’s Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC) and Ghana’s Cocobod proposed a minimum price of $2,600 for the main crop on Tuesday, and called for sales contracts below this threshold to be compensated by a living income differential.

Some traders suggested the proposed price would be unacceptable to big buyers, whose market dominance gives them a fair amount of clout in expected negotiations.

Reporting by Ange Aboa in Abidjan and Christian Akorlie in Accra; Writing by Sofia Christensen; Editing by Tim Cocks and Susan Fenton

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