Rising cocoa bean acidity worries Ivorian exporters
17 January 2014, 09:40
Abidjan - Concerns are growing among Ivory Coast's cocoa exporters about a deterioration in bean quality due to high acidity levels, dampening hopes for the 2013/2014 season in the top grower.
Bean acidity is determined by moisture levels and can affect the shelf-life of finished products, such as chocolate.
So far, bean deliveries to Ivory Coast's ports have beaten expectations and outpaced last year despite initial concerns about weather in the run up to the main harvest.
But exporters say some beans are being held back because free fatty acid levels (FFA) have been measured above the authorised 1.75 percent. Growers in the east, central west and south western regions have begun reporting smaller beans, a characteristic of high acidity.
"Obviously we are worried. In terms of quality, all was perfect until now and it is beginning to deteriorate," said an exporter in the capital Abidjan.
The director of an exporting firm in the south western port of San Pedro said the portion of high FFA beans was likely to increase towards the end of the month.
"We will be confronted with cocoa of lesser quality with an acidity above 2 percent and the beans are already beginning to grow smaller in certain regions, like in the east," he said.