The International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO) estimates that the world's current cocoa shortfall is now 55 per cent larger than previously thought, after adverse weather conditions led to crop reductions over the 2006/07 season.
According to the ICCO's latest quarterly bulletin, the global production deficit is now estimated at 242,000 tonnes, compared with the earlier projected figure of 156,000 tonnes.
The news could indicate further commodity pressure for manufacturers, many of whom have already suffered decreased margins because of higher costs in recent months.
Over the 2006/07 cocoa season, most of the major production regions were affected by weather problems, the ICCO said.
Africa - which accounted for 70 per cent of the world's cocoa output over this period - experienced the greatest decline - 10 per cent - after severe dry and windy conditions affected the continent at the end of 2006.
Over the same period, other climate issues such as the El Nino temperature fluctuations led to crop declines of eight per cent in the Asia and Oceania region, and six per cent in the Americas, the organisation said.
However, the ICCO estimated that demand for the commodity has not decreased and still remains at a record high, consequently leading to price increases on both the London and the New York stock markets.
World cocoa consumption, as measured by grindings of cocoa beans, has grown on average 3.8 per cent each year over the last five years, and 2.5 per cent over the 2006/07 season.
This demand, combined with some manufacturers anxiously stocking up on cocoa, has led to average price increases of 12 per cent, ICCO experts estimated.
However, the ICCO also said that it is too early to make precise future predictions, as the market has fluctuated over the past two years with prices rising and falling at regular intervals.
Manufacturers will have new forecasts for production and grindings for cocoa year 2007/08 once the next bulletin is published in February, the organisation said.