|$1.00 per metric tonne ($10.00 per contract)
|10 metric tonnes (22,046 pounds)
|Mar, May, Jul, Sep, Dec (H, K, N, U, Z)
|3:45a.m. - 12:30p.m. (Settles 10:50a.m.) CST
|Value of One Futures Unit
|Value of One Options Unit
|Last Trading Day
|Eleven business days prior to last business day of delivery month
Cocoa is the common name for a powder derived from the fruit seeds of the cacao tree. The Spanish called cocoa "the food of the gods" when they found it in South America 500 years ago. Today, it remains a valued commodity. Dating back to the time of the Aztecs, cocoa was mainly used as a beverage. The processing of the cacao seeds, also known as cocoa beans, begins when the harvested fruit is fermented or cured into a pulpy state for three to nine days. The cocoa beans are then dried in the sun and cleaned in special machines before they are roasted to bring out the chocolate flavor. After roasting, they are put into a crushing machine and ground into cocoa powder. Cocoa has a high food value because it contains as much as 20 percent protein, 40 percent carbohydrate, and 40 percent fat. It is also mildly stimulating because of the presence of theobromine, an alkaloid that is closely related to caffeine. Roughly two-thirds of cocoa bean production is used to make chocolate and one-third to make cocoa powder.
Four major West African cocoa producers, the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon, together account for about two-thirds of world cocoa production. Outside of West Africa, the major producers of cocoa are Indonesia, Brazil, Malaysia, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic. Cocoa producers like Ghana and Indonesia have been making efforts to increase cocoa production while producers like Malaysia have been switching to other crops. Ghana has had an ongoing problem with black pod disease and the crop's smuggling into the neighboring Ivory Coast. Brazil was once one of the largest cocoa producers but has had problems with witches' broom disease. In West Africa, the main crop harvest starts in the September-October period and can be extended into the January-March period. Cocoa trees reach maturity in 5-6 years but can live to be 50 years old or more. The cocoa tree will produce thousands of flowers during a growing season, but only a few will develop into cocoa pods.
Cocoa futures and options are traded at the ICE Futures U.S. and ICE Futures Europe exchanges. The futures contracts call for the delivery of 10 metric tons of cocoa and the contract is priced in US dollars per metric ton.
Prices - ICE cocoa futures prices (Barchart.com symbol CC) rallied sharply in early-2022 and posted the high for the year in February at $2,790 per metric ton. Strength in global cocoa demand supported prices in early 2022. Europe ground 1.67 MMT of cocoa beans into butter and powder for confectionary products in 2021, up +6.1% y/y and the most in data that goes back to 1999. Also, weather concerns in West Africa supported cocoa prices as the seasonal Harmattan winds dried out cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer. Cocoa prices then zigzagged lower into September when they posted a 2-1/2 year low of $2,192 per metric ton. The Federal Reserve's rate-hike campaign in 2022 boosted the dollar index to a 10-year high in September, undercutting most commodity prices, including cocoa. Also, beneficial growing conditions in the second half of 2022 improved West African cocoa crop prospects. The International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) projected that 2021/22 Ivory Coast cocoa production would be little changed at 2.4 MMT, and Ghana 2021/22 cocoa production would climb +24% y/y to 850,00 MT. Global cocoa production in 2020/21 had risen to a record 5.242 MMT, and the global cocoa market was in a surplus of +209,000 MT. Cocoa prices then moved higher into year-end on concern about the quality of some West African cocoa crops. Cocoa farmers continue to struggle with the lack of fertilizer and pesticides as the war in Ukraine has limited Russian exports of potash and other fertilizers worldwide. Also, chocolate consumption rebounded higher to pre-pandemic levels after countries around the world lifted pandemic restrictions. Cocoa prices finished 2022 up +3.2% yr/yr at $2,600 per metric ton.
Supply - The world's production of cocoa beans in the 2021/22 crop year fell by -3.5% to 5.580 million metric tons. The world's largest cocoa producer by far is the Ivory Coast, with 39.4% of the world's production, followed by Ghana with 14.7%, and Indonesia with 13.0%. Closing stocks of cocoa in the 2019/20 crop year rose by +2.4% yr/yr to 1.760 million metric tons.
Demand - World seasonal grindings of cocoa in 2019/20 fell by -3.1% yr/yr to 4.635 million metric tons. The European Union is by far the largest global consumer of cocoa, consuming about 33.7% of the global crop.
Trade - U.S. imports of cocoa and cocoa products in 2022 rose by +1.2% yr/yr to 1.553 million metric tons, a new record high.
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