AIPC, the association which represents cocoa processors in Brazil, has hinted that it will drastically reduce the volume of imports they book from Ghana to supply the South American industry.
“Imports for this year are all booked, at around 80,000 tonnes, all from Ghana, but the industry should reduce that volume by half next year,” AIPC executive director Eduardo Bastos said in Sao Paulo.
According to projections from analysts and the AIPC, Brazil’s new-crop cocoa production is poised for a recovery after a steep fall in the previous season due to drought.
He is optimistic the recovery will lead local processors next year to pare back the large volume of imports that they booked this year to supply the local industry.
For close to two decades, Brazil has been importing cocoa from West Africa, particularly Ghana, to keep her national production of almond and chocolate derivatives on course, due to sharp fall in the country’s cocoa production.
According to the AIPC, Brazil should produce around 200,000 tonnes of cocoa almonds in 2016/17 (October-September) compared to 150,000 tonnes in the previous season.
INTL FCStone, a broker and consulting firm estimates the new crop at 211,000 tonnes versus 140,000 tonnes previously.
Cocoa producers in Brazil normally harvest a first crop from November to February and then a second crop from May to August.
Brazil’s cocoa industry has an installed capacity to process 275,000 tonnes, among the five largest processing centres in the world, but usually grinds around 240,000 tonnes.
But Mr. Bastos and the local processors would like to see a much larger output from next year.
The South American country was once the world’s largest producer, with a peak of 435,000 tonnes in the 1985/86 crop, but the spread of the devastating Witches’ Broom fungus killed thousands of trees and reduced average production to below 150,000 in 2000.
Ghana is the second leading exporter of cocoa beans in the world, after Cote d’Ivoire which is producing more than 1.4 million metric tonnes of cocoa beans.
For the 2015/2016 crop season, Ghana bagged about 720,000 metric tonnes of cocoa production.