Global cocoa-producing giants, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, are suspecting chocolate companies of perpetrating a deliberate price manipulation scheme for their produce, much to the disadvantage of their farmers.
The Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, speaking at a crunch meeting with cocoa buyers in Accra raised serious concerns about the continuous downward spiral of cocoa prices.
“When prices fall, as we are experiencing now and last year because of COVID19 we had this natural glut, a surplus of cocoa in the market, and cocoa prices were down. But I do not think the price of chocolate went down. No,” Aidoo observed.
He, however, finds it intriguing that cocoa prices on the international market are defying the laws of demand and supply, such that despite the prevailing supply shortage from Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, prices keep tumbling.
“As we speak today, there is a deficit of cocoa in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, but still, prices are down. So we will want us to discuss this matter. We must interrogate this matter very well because when there is a surplus in the market prices are down, and when there is shortage prices are down,” the Ghana cocoa boss emphasised.
Mr Aidoo insisted, “this informs us that there is some kind of deliberate attempt to keep prices down.”
He challenged big chocolate representatives participating in the Accra high-level meeting held by Cote d’Ivoire – Ghana Cocoa Initiative (CIGCI) with key cocoa value chain actors to help make sense of the phenomenon, adding “that’s why we want a very frank and open discussion on this matter here and today.”
For the Cocobod chief, cocoa farmers who are at the base of the value chain are getting a raw deal despite the sacrifice they make to meet the quality and quantity demands of the market.
“Because we represent the base, which is very vulnerable – the farmers, the producers – you constitute the neck and then you have the consumers at the top. And we believe that the base is not getting its remunerative reward for what it produces,” he said.
He was convinced that while the trend of low prices for the core chocolate ingredient does not benefit cocoa growers, there is also no evidence at the retail end that consumers are seeing low prices for chocolate.
“I don’t think the consumers are also getting the best from low prices. If you should keep prices low, then it means the prices of chocolate should also go down across the globe, but we’ve also not seen that,” Aidoo asserted.
Commenting on behalf of industry, the CEO of Touton, Patrick de Boussac, noted that the problem of cocoa is a bit cyclical.
“Today the world has changed and the farmer after two years of COVID, and one year of difficult macro economy, we are here to find solutions together through a partnership,” de Boussac observed.
The Touton chief executive welcomed the opportunity to sit together with producers to design solutions to the myriad challenges confronting the cocoa and chocolate sector.
“This will allow us to think and tackle all the challenges that await us for the next five years which are deforestation, regulations and find mechanisms or points where the price paid to farmers is reasonable and clear for the long term,” he said.
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