London, 27 September 2016 – The ICCO’s second Cocoa Market Outlook Conference today brought over 200 delegates to London to hear the latest analysis and forecasts for the upcoming cocoa season from a panel of experts from across the sector and the globe.
After a welcome from Executive Director Dr. Jean-Marc Anga, and an introduction from moderator Ms. Emiko Terazono of the Financial Times, the international audience at the day-long Conference heard an overview presentation on the global prospects for cocoa supply and demand from ICCO Director of Economics and Statistics Mr. Laurent Pipitone.
Mr. Laurent Souron, Head of Cocoa Research at Armajaro Research, looked in detail at the effects on current West African production of weather patterns including El Niño and the harmattan winds.
From West African financial institution Ecobank, Head of Group Research Dr. Edward George examined the prospects for a possible rebound of cocoa production in West Africa, while Deputy Chief Executive of the Ghana Cocoa Board Dr. Francis K. Oppong explained his government’s policies aimed at accelerating growth in cocoa output and addressing a number of issues that affect that process.
Rounding off the morning session, cocoa trader Mr. Max Goettler of Cocoanect in Amsterdam reported on current increasing trend in Latin American cocoa production, and said that Ecuador and Peru, the two countries with the strongest growth, could well represent the solution to the current structural deficit in the market.
At a lively panel session featuring all of the morning’s presenters, the engaged audience raised questions touching on the professionalism of cocoa farmers, different models of marketing cocoa in different origins, the effects of climate change on production and whether or not origin grinding actually adds value, among many other subjects.
After lunch, the topics moved onto industry’s quality requirements and increasing regulatory pressure, with Dr. Michelle End, Cocoa Research Manager at the UK’s Cocoa Research Association, reviewing the recently updated guidelines for cocoa quality from the European cocoa processors and chocolate makers.
Ms. Ann Duponcheel, Global Trade & Regulatory Affairs Manager at Barry Callebaut, speaking on behalf of the European Cocoa Association, reviewed recent and upcoming regulatory changes and their challenges in relation to cocoa production. She also considered the post-Brexit role of the UK government, in taking on the responsibility for both trade agreements and regulations, under which both cocoa and its products would in future be imported into Britain.
As the focus moved onto the market for semi-finished products, Mr. Gerard Stapleton, Head of Coffee, Cocoa and Natural Rubber Research at LMC International, outlined the recent trends and future outlook in the global market for cocoa products including cocoa butter and powder. Mr. Carlos Mera Arzeno, Senior Commodity Risk Analyst with Rabobank charted the various mechanisms in place for coping with the shifting tides of the cocoa grinding industry.
Finally, moving onto the chocolate sector and the recipe for its growth, Mr. Alan Rownan, Ethical Labels Analyst with Euromonitor International, looked at the problems of affordability of chocolate in many markets, and the effect of labels and the presentation of sustainability issues on chocolate products as a spur to consumption.
After the Conference, the delegates networked at a special reception hosted by the ICCO’s Executive Director, and the consensus appeared to be that the Conference had been very worthwhile in supporting the ICCO’s aim of increasing transparency in the market.
The 2016 Cocoa Market Outlook Conference was kindly sponsored by the CME Group.
Pictured above: Panel session at the Cocoa Market Outlook Conference 2016 (l-r): Moderator Emiko Terazono with presenters Max Goettler, Laurent Souron, Dr. Edward George, Dr. Francis Oppong and Laurent Pipitone