Ecuador, the world’s biggest grower of flavoured beans used in fine chocolate, will probably lose about 15 per cent of this year’s cocoa crop after heavy rains hurt farms in the Andean nation’s coastal region, the National Cocoa Exporters Association said.
Anecacao, as the association is known, reduced its 2015 forecast to about 230,000 metric tons from a January estimate of 260,000 tons to 280,000 tons, Ivan Ontaneda, the group’s president, said Wednesday by telephone from Guayaquil. Heavier-than-normal rains since April have hurt the mid-year harvest and are damaging flowers on trees expected to bear fruit beginning in September, he said.
The bad weather in Ecuador comes on top of problems in West Africa, where floods in Ivory Coast and Ghana, the world’s top cocoa producers, are blocking roads and leaving cocoa pods rotting on the trees.
About 30 per cent to 40 per cent of crops in Ecuador’s coastal province of El Oro are affected, Ontaneda said. In Los Rios province, about 15 percent to 20 percent of cocoa trees are damaged and in the northern province of Esmeraldas as much as 20 per cent of the crop has been affected, he said. Ecuador’s main harvest begins in September and continues through March.
Growers, which produced about 245,000 tons of the beans last year, are still monitoring the El Nino weather pattern and are preparing for a moderate to severe impact, Ontaneda said. Ecuador exports about 95 per cent of the cocoa it produces, he said.
Bloomberg News, edited by ESM