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ABIDJAN, March 14 Cocoa exporters in top
producer Ivory Coast expect port arrivals to fall by half to
around 20,000 tonnes per week from next week, and to remain at
that low level until May or June owing to poor bean quality,
they said on Tuesday.
Cocoa arrivals this season so far are up nearly 7 percent
since last season, with at least 40,000 tonnes being delivered
weekly to Ivory Coast's two ports of Abidjan and San Pedro since
But senior officials at four major export companies, who
declined to be named, told Reuters they have rejected a growing
number of beans due to small size, poor fermentation and mould
since mid-February, blaming excessively dry weather.
The officials told Reuters they expect weekly arrivals to
fall by half, or to between 20,000 and 22,000 tonnes next week
as beans good enough for export were now too scarce. They
expected this dip to continue at least until the mid crop is
well underway in May or June.
Some companies had already stopped buying new beans and
others were planning to stop this week, they said.
"I think the arrivals of 40,000 tonnes a week are over
because the beans being delivered are no longer exportable,"
said the director of an export company in Abidjan.
"The beans are rotten, poorly fermented and with a mould
rate that is almost double what is was."
Buyers in the regions of Daloa, Soubre, Man, Vavoua and
Bouafle confirmed that some of the beans delivered to exporters
in recent weeks had been rejected for their small size.
Bean size is determined by the number of beans per 100
grammes of cocoa, known as the bean count, with a higher figure
reflecting smaller bean size.
The Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC) has fixed a ceiling of
105 beans per 100 grammes of cocoa destined for export during
the October to March main crop.
Bean count was at around 100 at the beginning of February,
but rose to 115/120 by the beginning of March, buyers said. They
expected bean count to be between 115 and 125 until June, when
it might fall back to 110/115 if there is rain in April and May.
"The bean count is rising in some areas such as Daloa,
Vavoua, Bouafle and even Soubre and Buyo due to dry weather,"
said the commercial director of an export company in Abidjan.
He said cocoa from those regions was coming in with a bean
count of 120 while the average was still 105/110 for beans from
Duekoue, Tai and Grabo.
"It has not rained much since January, which means that the
pods are getting small and the bean count is rising. At the port
of San Pedro, exporters don't want cocoa with a bean count over
105," said Ismael Kante, a buyer in Vavoua.
(Reporting by Ange Aboa; Writing by Nellie Peyton; Editing by
Tim Cocks and David Evans)