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Ivory Coast "rumble in the jungle" sparks cocoa fears

09 Mar

The world’s eyes may be on Libya and the rising oil price, but further down western Africa, perched on the Gulf of Guinea, lies Ivory Coast, where Laurent Gbagbo is fighting to stay in office after losing an election last year. The country is on the brink of civil war, forcing the price of cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, to a near 32-year high, writes Orla Ryan. (approx. 40% of the cost of Hershey’s chocolates is directly from cocoa)

On Monday, Mr Gbagbo’s government announced it would buy beans at a fixed price from farmers and then try to sell them on the world market, in a de facto nationalisation of the cocoa sector.

Mr Gbagbo’s move comes after Alassane Ouattara, who won the elections according to UN certified results, extended for a second month a ban on cocoa exports that trading houses, including Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland of the US, Swiss-based Barry Callebaut, Olam of Singapore and UK-based Armajaro, are observing.

The decree was read on state broadcaster Radiodiffusion Télévision Ivoirienne on Monday night and left the Ivorian cocoa industry in disarray amid lack of details about what exactly the new measures meant for the commodity trade

During the ban, trading houses have accumulated about 400,000 tonnes of beans, worth $1.45bn at current prices, which could now be confiscated.

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