The forecast was lowered by 27,000 metric tons (MT), following last year’s prediction that cocoa production would amount to 243,000 MT in 2022/23.
Now the country’s cocoa harvest is expected to reach just 216,000 MT in 2023/24, a 15.7% decrease on current levels, according to the latest long-term agribusiness forecast unveiled by Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock Production and Supplies in Brasilia on September 30.
Brazilian authorities were more optimistic last year when they predicted a decrease of just 2.5% in the upcoming decade, starting from 249,000 t in 2012/13.
The harvested acreage under cocoa in Brazil is expected to drop to 679,000 ha in 2023/24 according to the latest report, down 1% from 686,000 ha in 2013/14. This is a more pessimistic outlook than last year’s prediction that the harvested area would expand 8.9% to 742,000 ha, up from 681,000 ha in 2012/13.
Use of unprecedented forecasting models
The new cocoa harvest forecast was made public by the strategic management department of the agriculture ministry as part of a larger 122-page long-term agri-business projection for Brazil until 2023/24.
The forecasts were based on specific econometric models, specifically temporal series models that are of great use for series forecasting. “The utilization of these models in Brazil for the purpose of this work is unprecedented,” explains the document.
“The study aims to reveal possible directions of development and to provide input to policymakers regarding trends of the principal agribusiness products. The trends will permit the identification of possible trajectories, as well as structure visions of the future of agribusiness in a global context, thus permitting the country to continue growing and conquering new markets,” explains the report.
Net importer since 1997/8
Cocoa farmgate prices, meanwhile, continued their ascent this year in Brazil and reached three-year highs in mid-2014 in two leading cocoa bean producers states (Bahia and Para), according to a new 2014/2015 annual report on prospects for the country’s agricultural sector published by Brazil’s National Supply Company (CONAB) in September.
Farmgate prices in Bahia amounted to BRL7.03 (USD2.89) per kg in June, up by 10.4% from BRL6.34 (USD2.61) per kg in June 2013. The price of a kg of cocoa beans in Para state, in the meantime, reached BRL6.02 (USD2.48) in June, up by 3.4% from the BRL5.82 (USD2.40) recorded in June 2013, according to CONAB.
Brazil’s cocoa production year consists of two crops: the main crop (October-April) and the second crop (May-September). After its cocoa harvest almost reach 350,000 t in 1989/90, Brazil witnessed its cocoa crop harvest plunge to as low as 123,500 t in 1999/2000 because of the arrival of the witches’ broom disease (WBD) in Bahia.
In recent years, Brazilian cocoa production has been recovering because of strong domestic demand and important strides in research that helped growers to manage diseases and pests better. With its long tradition in cocoa production, Brazil was able to build up a strong cocoa bean grinding industry. However, the sharp drop in domestic production in the early nineties meant that former net exporter Brazil became a net importer of raw cocoa in 1997/98. The country has remained a net importer to this day.