French chocolate maker Cemoi Group said sales from its cocoa-processing plant in Ivory Coast exceeded forecasts in the operation’s first year as the company plans to increase output in the world’s biggest producer of the beans.
Demand for Cemoi’s chocolate spread and cocoa powder produced in the West African nation continue to rise, Chief Executive Officer Patrick Poirrier said in an Oct. 1 interview, declining to comment on revenue and volumes. Cemoi will double production at its plant in the commercial capital, Abidjan, to 10,000 metric tons in the next three years while starting sales in Nigeria, Poirrier said in May.
“It’s still a burgeoning market, but there’s a middle class in Ivory Coast who wants to eat chocolate,” Poirrier said at a cocoa conference in Abidjan. “This is a test market, the idea is to go beyond and expand our network in West Africa which has a population about the size of Europe.”
Ivory Coast is recovering from a 10-year conflict that ended in 2011 and achieved economic expansion of 10.3 percent last year, the highest in sub-Saharan Africa. Fast growth and a larger middle class have pushed up consumption of goods from bread to burgers and attracted Carrefour SA and Restaurant Brands International Inc.’s Burger King to open businesses in the nation.
The country said in June it will reduce export taxes for local grinders in return for increasing processing capacity. Ivory Coast seeks to boost local processing to 50 percent by 2020 from 33 percent at the moment. Shipments of chocolate are tax-free since last year.
Cemoi is one of only a few local makers of chocolate in Ivory Coast, where most of the grinding plants make semi-processed cocoa products.
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