Confectioners face even higher cocoa prices
market in January, increasing by an average 4.6 per cent on the
London and New York stock exchanges.
According to the International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO)'s monthly review of the market situation, the daily price of cocoa averaged $2,216 (€1,460) per tonne for the month, compared to $2,113 (€1,392.7) in December - a 4.6 per cent increase. The findings will come as another sign of price pressures for confectioners and other food manufacturers over growing concern for the cocoa supply chain. Several confectionery firms have already put up consumer prices in an effort to combat high commodity prices. The ICCO attributed the rise to a number of investors looking to diversify their portfolio by investing in commodities. "The Reuters/Jeffries CRB index, averaging future prices across various commodities (including energy, metal and agricultural products) reached an all times high," the report said. "Indeed the performance of the commodity sector had been excellent in 2007; this prompted investors to continue pouring money into this sector." The markets did experience some downturn mid-month, as the markets became vulnerable to profit taking, but the correction was short lived, the organisation added. The commodity squeeze soon pushed profits back up again, and cocoa reached its highest price for the month by the end of January - $2,350 (€1,549) in New York and £1,222 (€1,599.5) in London. The news could mean financial troubles for manufacturers, many of whom are already suffering scrutinised for putting up consumer prices. Several firms, including Mars, Nestle and Kraft, are being investigated for price fixing in Germany and Canada. Many firms, such as Barry Callebaut and Hershey, are also focusing efforts on premium or value-added ingredients in an effort to boost market share. However, cocoa prices may ease over 2008, as the ICCO also predicts that weather conditions will be "more favourable" than during the previous growing season. The West African producing countries experienced above average rainfall during last year, while the Harmattan, a dry wind that can damage crops, was moderate during the season, according to the report. The ICCO also quoted the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which reported last year that a La Nina weather condition had developed in the tropical Pacific Ocean. La Nina, expected to last this year until June, is an ocean-atmosphere phenomenon that is thought to facilitate cocoa growing.