Cocoa bean grind up in US and Europe

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cocoa Chocolate Cargill cocoa

North American cocoa bean grind in the second quarter of 2010 again showed double digit gains from the same quarter a year ago, according to data from the US National Confectioners Association (NCA).

A total of 117,657 tonnes of cocoa beans were ground during the period from April to June, which was an increase of 12,675 tonnes on the same period in 2009, confirmed the NCA on Thursday.

Cocoa grinding data is an indicator of demand from industry, with the product being used by manufacturers to create as cocoa ‘semi-finished’ products: Cocoa butter, cocoa powder and cocoa liquor.

Participants in the US statistics include, amongst others, ADM Cocoa, The Hershey Co, Barry Callebaut, Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, Mars Chocolate North America and Nestle Chocolate & Confectioners.

Laurent Pipitone, senior statistician at the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO), commented that due to the fact that grinding levels for 2009 saw a sharp decline it meant “we were starting from a low base we were expecting a recovery for 2010.”

The North American increase is in line with data from Europe published earlier this week, which also revealed a hike in cocoa grindings for year on year comparison.

The statistics from the European Cocoa Association (ECA) showed that said second-quarter grind was 328,704 tonnes, down slightly from the first quarter but up 12.7 per cent from that in 2009, and, in fact, higher than anticipated by industry analysts.

The ECA groups the major companies involved in the cocoa bean trade and processing, in warehousing and related logistical activities in Europe, with its members representing two-thirds of Europe’s cocoa beans grinding, half of Europe's industrial chocolate production and 40 per cent of global cocoa liquor, butter and powder output.

The 2010 North American and European figures contrast sharply with cocoa grinding data for the first-quarter of 2009, when demand was hit by the global recession. A percentage of chocolate producers then decreased their chocolate bar size rather than pass on prices to consumers, and cocoa consumption also decreased as a result of consumers purchasing less high-quality chocolate.

Following soaring cocoa prices and a fall in consumer demand for the more premium end of the chocolate market, there are signs that the category is now poised to enter a growth phase, with industrial chocolate supplier Barry Callebaut and leading chocolate brand manufacturers such as Hershey, Nestle and Lindt reporting positive outlooks.

And festive purchasing at Halloween and Christmas is expected to help significantly with 2010 earnings for chocolate manufactures.

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