Ivory Coast's cocoa regulator is sticking with its forecast for a drop of about 10% in output for the 2021/2022 season, despite a pick-up in beans arriving at ports in the past three weeks.
Yves Brahima Kone, chief executive of the Ivory Coast Cocoa and Coffee Council (CCC), and five pod counters polled by Reuters, said on Tuesday output for the October-to-March main crop was expected around 1.55 million tonnes compared with 1.75 million tonnes the previous year.
They added the drop in production would accelerate between February and April, before recovering around May and June, during the start of the smaller April-September mid-crop.
Cocoa arrivals at ports in the world's top grower had reached 1.178 million tonnes by 16 January from the start of the season on 1 October, down 4% from 1.227 million tonnes in the same period the previous season.
"We have a drop of 9% to 10% in arrivals in the ports at the end of December and I think that by the end of the main crop, we will have a total drop of between 7% and 10% even if the arrivals are currently high," Kone said.
The regulator and analysts say current arrivals are high compared with last year due to disruptions in the market last season because of a protracted dispute between buyers and the regulator over premiums.
In the main producing regions of the Southwest, West and Centre-West, farmers and pod counters said beans being delivered to ports were harvested in December and there were few main-crop pods left to harvest, which would reduce port arrivals.
"Because of the holidays, we harvested everything to sell. There are still some beans that are being dried, but after that, we won't have much to harvest," said Daniel Bla, who owns six hectares of cocoa in Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt.
As for the mid-crop, production is expected to remain stable compared with last year at around 600,000 tonnes thanks to abundant rainfall.
"Overall, the mid-crop should be excellent again. Let's say 600,000 tonnes like last year which will give a total of 2.150 million tonnes compared with 2.340 million tonnes," a pod counter said.