Ebola Outbreak: Chocolate Production Threatened In West Africa

The Ebola outbreak could affect chocolate prices and the world Cocoa Foundation is planning to announce the Coca industry Response to Ebola Initiative Wednesday, Politico reported. The proposed plan would collect funds and donations from WCF members, such as Nestle and Mars, for the Red Cross and other charitable organizations working to stop the spread of Ebola in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

“As a member of the WCF and a supporter of the CocoaAction strategy, Mars is pleased to see the industry coming together to help organizations on the ground in the prevention and eradication of the Ebola virus,” said Mars Inc. in a statement.

While Ebola has not spread to the Ivory Coast, the country shares a border with Guinea and Liberia and is the world’s largest producer of cocoa, the Telegraph reported. An earlier forecast, prior to the end of the harvest season in September, estimated a yield of 1.55 million tons while the Ivory Coast produced 1.45 tons of cocoa during the 2013 season.

Amid a potential fear of a border quarantine, cocoa prices spiked, reaching 3 1/2 highs, up to $3,400 per ton at its peak. “If the whole west is hit, that’s 600,000 tons. With San Pedro and Sassandra included, you’re talking about a million tons,” an Ivory Coast exporter said to Reuters. The Ivory Coast has already closed off its western border and taken preventative measure to stop the spread of Ebola.

Cocoa prices are already volatile, due to political and civil unrest as well as factors like the weather, and the threat of Ebola has only added to market concerns. There is also a higher demand for chocolate, due in part to the treat’s success in china, adding to the pressure for a good season.

The WCF will host is Partnership Meeting and Trade Fair in Copenhagen, Denmark on Wednesday.

Rob Cesternino

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