NY Cocoa Prices Boosted by Tight Global Supplies

Dec ICE NY cocoa (CCZ23) on Monday closed +16 (+0.41%), and Dec ICE London cocoa #7 (CAZ23) closed -4 (-0.12%).

Cocoa prices on Monday settled mixed, with NY cocoa climbing to a new 45-year nearest futures high.  Monday's rally in the British pound (^GBPUSD) to a 1-1/2 month high weighed on London cocoa as the stronger pound undercuts cocoa priced in terms of sterling.  

Tight cocoa supplies are supportive of prices.  Ivory Coast government data on Monday showed Ivory Coast farmers shipped 288,686 MT of cocoa to ports from October 1-November 5, down -17.3% from the same time last year.  The Ivory Coast is the world's largest cocoa producer.

Also, ICE-monitored cocoa inventories held in U.S. ports have declined steadily since June and posted a 1-3/4 year low on Monday.

Recent heavy rain in West Africa has caused black pod disease to spread and is a major bullish factor for cocoa prices.  The spread of the disease, which causes cocoa pods to turn black and rot, could result in lower cocoa crop quality and production and push the global cocoa market into a third year of deficit for the 2023/24 season.

Also, the spread of the swollen shoot virus is threatening Ivory Coast cocoa crops.  The virus is transmitted via mealybugs that feed on the sap of cocoa plants and will significantly reduce cocoa crop yields before eventually killing the plant.  Tropical Research Services estimates that about 20% of the cocoa crop in the Ivory Coast is infected with the swollen shoot virus.

Concern about lower cocoa production in Ghana, the world's second-largest producer, is bullish for cocoa prices.  Ghana's cocoa regulator said on August 16 that some of its cocoa farmers are unlikely to fulfill some of their cocoa contracts for a second season.  Ghana's regulator postponed 44,000 MT of cocoa shipments to future seasons due to a lack of supplies.  Ghana's 2022/23 cocoa crop is now expected at around 650,000 MT, a 13-year low and 24% below initial estimates of 850,000 MT, as a lack of fertilizers and black pod disease hurt cocoa yields.  

Cocoa prices remain supported by concern that an El Nino weather event could undercut global cocoa production.  On June 8, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center said that sea surface temperatures across the equatorial Pacific Ocean had risen 0.5 degrees Celsius above normal, and wind patterns have changed to the point where El Nino criteria have been met.  Cocoa prices rallied to 12-year highs in 2016 after an El Nino weather event caused a drought that hampered global cocoa production.

Soaring cocoa prices are undercutting global cocoa demand.  Circana reported that U.S. chocolate sales in the four weeks ended October 8 fell -9.2% y/y.  The National Confectioners Association reported on October 24 that Q3 North American cocoa grindings fell -18% y/y to 97,881 MT, weaker than expectations of a -12% y/y decline and the fewest grindings for a Q3 in 15 years.  The Cocoa Association of Asia reported on October 23 that Asia Q3 cocoa grindings fell -8.5% y/y to 211,468 MT.  The European Cocoa Association reported on October 12 that European Q3 cocoa processing fell -0.9% y/y to 366,298 MT, an improvement from the -5.7% y/y decline in Q2.  On the more positive side of demand, Gepex, an exporter group that includes six of the world's biggest cocoa grinders, reported on October 17 that its Q3 cocoa processing rose +7% y/y to 183,731 MT.

The International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) reports that global 2022/23 cocoa production increased +2.4% y/y to 4.938 MMT, and global cocoa grindings increased +0.2% y/y to 5.005 MMT.  ICCO estimates end-of-season 2022/23 global cocoa stocks at 1.707 MMT and the cocoa stocks-to-grinding ratio at a 7-year low of 34.5%.  ICCO projected a global cocoa deficit for 2022/23 of -146,000 tons and said, "The expectation of a supply deficit has been compounded with weather variations, especially in West Africa." 

More Cocoa News from Barchart

On the date of publication, Rich Asplund did not have (either directly or indirectly) positions in any of the securities mentioned in this article. All information and data in this article is solely for informational purposes. For more information please view the Barchart Disclosure Policy here.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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