Monday, February 28, 2011

The Hot Cocoa Belt Around the World

And again on this day there is snow!  The banks of black snow and ice have again been dusted over, made magical by a respectable layer of flakes. Puddles, which had begun to form during the three days of dryness and relative warmth, are again made crystalline, where they formed in walkways and thorough fares through out Manhattan and the suburbs of North Bergen, New Jersey.

A Parisian chocolate is on the list to try tonight, when lights from the George Washington Bridge will shine, creating the sort of romantic landscape and ambience one might find in a café on the banks of the River Seine near Paris in France.  But here in America, I am looking to the waters of the Hudson, towards the Atlantic and dreaming across the pond, of chocolate … Ah, the chocolate!

On these shores, on this day, chocolate is the stuff of romantic musings and moments of comfort. While on yet other shores of the other side of the grand Atlantic pond, cocoa and the business of cocoa beans conjures up thoughts of political volatility, civil unrest and human exploitation.  


Ivory Coast is the world’s largest producer of cocoa, the essential part of chocolate and most chocolate products. Its geographic neighbor, Ghana, which ranks second, leads in Europe for its cocoa which is prized for its quality. This means that the aggregate swath of West African soil, according to internet sources, grows the majority of the world's cocoa, according to internet sources at .

Not a new phenomenon, the same internet sources report, Africa is expected to remain the world's leading cocoa producing area into the next decade. With cocoa bean production in the Ivory Coast, expected to show growth of 2.3 percent a year from 1.2 million tonnes to 1.6 million tones, once at this level, production will account for approximately 44 percent of global cocoa.

The industry in West Africa imports cocoa and cocoa beans out of the continent, for manufacture and packaging in other countries, fuels governments and their military.

At lest they did until recently when, much like in Egypt, the incumbent failed to vacate the office following his defeat in democratic elections held last November.  Mr. Laurent Gbagbo lead an unsuccessful bid for reelection, yet remains in power.  In an effort to provoke his ouster, Alassan Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of the November presidential elections, imposed a ban on Jan. 23 initiated to force Mr. Gbagbo out of the post by undermining funding from the export Mr. Gbagbo utilizes to pay his servants and supporters in the military.

Driven by unrest in the region, the commodity has gained 25 percent since late November and continued to climb since the boycott began. Bloomberg sources report the commodity has reached prices, per metric ton comparable only to levels seen in 1979. At date, cocoa beans had reached pricing upwards of USD $3,586 a metric ton.

More to come…

(c) 2011 Valerie Williams-Sanchez

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