The company said Cocoa-Mate ingredients, a line of cocoa extenders and replacers, are designed to allow for savings during times of high cocoa prices. The ingredients were first developed in 2002, in response to that year's cocoa shortage. According to the latest market estimates, 2007 is likely to be another year of tight cocoa supplies. Just last week, the International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO) published its first cocoa forecast for 2006/07 on world production, grindings and cocoa bean stocks. Global supply is expected to dip 5.5 percent to 3,472 thousand tons, compared to last year's world production of 3,675. Similarly pessimistic forecasts have been noted elsewhere, with investment bank Fortis forced to increase its 2006/07 cocoa deficit figure from 131,000 tons to 215,000 last month due to unfavorable weather in West Africa. Unseasonably dry weather in the area has raised fears that crops will be damaged and production from the major growing region will fall. With supplies dipping and factors such as weather, disease and civil unrest having an increasing impact on the production chain, the food manufacturing sector is faced with the threat of rising prices. David Michael claims its Cocoa-Mate ingredients can help manufacturers minimize some of these extra costs by reducing the levels of cocoa powder used in food products by up to 30 percent. The customized flavors, which take into consideration both the type of cocoa and the total percentage of cocoa used in the finished product, are adaptable for use in a number of applications, including ice cream, yogurt, beverages, puddings, toppings and bakery goods. The company supplies the ingredient as either a 'Natural & Artificial' or an artificial flavor in a liquid or powder.