Smuggled cocoa beans impact supplies from Ghana

By Lindsey Partos

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Ghana cocoa board, Ghana, Ivory coast

Cocoa supplies in Ghana, the world's second largest producer of beans, are being hit by smugglers taking the valuable beans abroad as prices crash through the $3000 barrier.

In June, cocoa futures in London soared to £1,662 per tonne, their highest

In New York, the same picture pushed prices to a 28-year high, driven by a 53 per cent rise on 2007, and pulling in prices for cocoa at $3,150 per tonne.

And while the price paid to cocoa growers in Ivory Coast, the world's number one grower of cocoa, marches in tune to this healthy world market, in Ghana prices are fixed at the beginning of the season.

Attracted by the higher prices, the smugglers from Ghana have been selling their produce on Ivory Coast, consequently robbing the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) of a record harvest.

"I can say for now that we are denied that opportunity of announcing a record harvest this year as a result of the smuggling,"​ Isaac Osei, COCOBOD's chief executive told local media, the Ghana News Agency, this week.

According to the International Cocoa Organisation, this is not a rare phenomenon."Smuggling is a common problem in all of western Africa​," a spokesperson for the ICCO explains to ConfectioneryNews.com.

Smugglers are keen to profit from the keen price differential between Ghana and Ivory Coast. And with cocoa beans in June 2008 fetching a 40 per cent higher market price than in June 2007, the appeal has apparently been ever stronger this year.

Although, according to the local media report, amendments to the system may be on the way with Osei saying the government may take the "appropriate decision to address the issue of price differentials at the beginning of the next crop year in October."

Earlier this year, in a bid to stem the flow of smuggled beans to Ivory Coast and Togo, the Ghanaian government boosted the producer price for cocoa by than 25 per cent.

In terms of yield this year, COCOBOD originally forecast a harvest of 650,000 tonnes for the full October-September crop year, including a light crop of 50,000 tonnes. Observers now predict a total output of more than 700,000 tonnes.

Keen to compete further on the world stage, the country has ambitions to bring in one million tonnes of cocoa a year by 2010.

Related topics: Commodities, Cocoa & Sugar, Ingredients

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