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ABIDJAN, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast will sell 400,000 tonnes of its 2016/17 cocoa mid-crop harvest exclusively to locally based grinders via special auctions beginning in January, marketing board and finance ministry sources said on Tuesday.
The world’s top cocoa grower typically produces around 400,000 tonnes of cocoa during the April-to-September mid-crop, but it saw output drop to around 316,000 tonnes last season due to poor weather.
Ivory Coast has vied with the Netherlands to be the global leader in cocoa processing in recent years. But local grinders struggled to procure supplies for their processing facilities amid last season’s dip in mid-crop production.
“They told us their needs and we have decided to exclusively guarantee them the mid-crop this season if it doesn’t go above 400,000 tonnes,” a source with the Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC) said. “If it’s bigger, then others can have some.”
The decision was confirmed by a finance ministry source involved in managing the cocoa portfolio.
Ivory Coast’s main cocoa processors include Barry Callebaut , Olam International, Cargill and Cemoi.
While overall output is expected to rebound this season after falling by around 28 percent last season, the CCC source said it would hold off on marketing the mid-crop until the start of 2017.
“For the moment, we are not selling anything from the 2016/17 mid-crop, because we want to have a good idea of the production level first. We want to avoid over-selling like last year,” he said.
The CCC had already sold forward 1,225,000 tonnes of the main crop, including 220,000 tonnes worth of international contracts, by the end of October, according to the finance ministry source.
“There’s nothing left to sell aside from the mid-crop, which will be entirely destined for the grinders this year,” he said.
Reporting by Ange Aboa; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Mark Potter