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As people eat less chocolate, cocoa beans pile up

01/13/2021 | 11:23am

People in the U.S. and Europe are eating less chocolate.

And the impact is being felt thousands of miles away in the Ivory Coast.

The West African country is a major producer of the key ingredient - cocoa.

Now unsold beans are piling up, with around 100,000 tonnes stranded in the bush.

With prices fixed at a minimum $1.82 per kilo, this farmer is afraid buyers simply won't be interested.

I'm scared that my cocoa will remain on my hands, he says.

The bottleneck follows a request from chocolate buyers in Europe and the U.S. for a delay in deliveries.

Companies including Mars, Hershey and Barry Callebaut all buy from the Ivory Coast.

Now trader Alfred Yao says the downturn in orders is hitting livelihoods:

"It has a negative impact, because the day before yesterday we saw students in the streets as their parents did not find buyers for their cocoa, so they did not have money to send their children to school."

With beans piling up at ports too, regulators are trying to stem the flow of product from growers.

While eating less chocolate might be good for consumers in the West, the downturn is a bitter medicine for African farmers.

© Reuters 2021
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