The new facility, located in Tema, will produce cocoa liquor, butter and powder. The initial capacity of 65,000 metric tonnes will increase Ghana’s grind by 25 per cent.
According to Reuters, the plant started test runs a few weeks ago, with progress good.
West Africa currently produces nearly three-quarters of the world's cocoa, and Cargill said its investment in Ghana will complement its other cocoa producing facilities to help meet increasing demand from customers around the globe.
Global Industry Analysts predicts that the market will exceed four million tonnes by 2010, while cocoa production is becoming more concentrated in one continent. The trend means that manufacturers are becoming more dependent on countries such as Ghana for supplies.
Such an increase in concentration could cause supply problems for processors, especially as the region is known for its political problems, which in the past have caused disruptions.
Paul Naar, head of Cargill's Food Ingredients businesses in Europe, Middle East and Africa said last summer that the plant incorporates some of the latest technology to “ensure Ghanaian cocoa is processed to the highest standards”. The majority of this equipment was shipped from Europe, leading to the plant exceeding budget estimates.
"Costs have risen to $100 million [€68 million] from an initial estimate of $70 million [€48 million] due to the weakening of the dollar," Taco Terheijden, Cargill Ghana's commercial director told Reuters.
Ghana is the world's second largest cocoa producing region and the country's government has pledged to increase bean production to over 1 million tonnes. According to the International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO) the country's commercial crop in 2005/2006 reached a record high of 646,000 tonnes.
However, the country currently only has installed capacity to process about 40 per cent of this.
"Ghana is one of the most important cocoa supplying countries in the world and creating value-added products in Ghana will not only be good for the people of Ghana, but will also allow us to provide a greater range of cocoa products to meet the growing needs of our cocoa customers around the world," said Naar.
Confectionery manufacturers are facing increasing cost pressures as cocoa prices as cocoa futures prices continue to soar.
In July, cocoa futures continued their upward spiral and swelled to £1,703 (€2,160) in London, the highest for 22 years, according to the International Cocoa Organization’s (ICCO) monthly report.
The story was similar in New York, where futures achieved a 28-year high, reaching $3,245 (€2,203) per tonne, after last month crashing though the $3,000 barrier as demand outstripped supplies.
Meanwhile, the ICCO daily prices averaged $2,954 (€2,005) per tonne, down by $68 compared to the average price recorded in the previous month.