For the first nine months of 2005 cocoa exports had already jumped 21 per cent to RM 1.35 billion ($386 million) from RM 1.20 billion ($320 million) for the first nine months of 2004.
Director-general of the Malaysian cocoa board Dr Azhar Ismail attributes the record figures to increased consumption in traditional markets such as the US and Europe along with Malaysian cocoa products infiltrating new markets in Ukraine and Romania.
The country is currently deploying a twofold strategy to try to reduce growing cocoa imports whilst at the same time concentrating on building exports of cocoa products.
Between the period of 2000-2004 imports expanded at a faster rate than exports resulting in the government stepping in to turn things around.
Malaysia has tried to offset the causes of reduced domestic production such as poor return on crops and tough competition from Africa by offering incentives to cocoa farmers such as tax breaks and technical assistance.
Laurent Pipitone of the International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO) said Malaysia is expected to increase its production of cocoa products and continue to prosper through exports. Pipitone noted however that Asia's role in cocoa production, especially in relation to beans, is far behind that of Africa.
The Ivory Coast alone accounts for 44 per cent of global cocoa production, contributing to Africa's 69 per cent share, whereas the entire Asia-Pacific region is responsible for 18 per cent. Indonesia is the biggest producer in Asia-Pacific with a 14 per cent share of global production; Malaysia is far behind with just over 1 per cent.