Last year was positive for cocoa and its semi-finished products, which exceeded USD 950 million in exports, according to the National Association of Cocoa and Industrialized Exporters of Ecuador ( Anecacao ).
The figure exceeded the item for 2020 by USD 15 million, which was an excellent year for the activity because it improved its sales abroad by more than 50,000 tons and reached 360,800. In 2019, 301,337 tons were shipped.
In 2021, 360,714 tons were sold, said Francisco Miranda, president of Anecacao. He added that cocoa production in the country broke a record by exceeding 375,000 tons. But about 15,000 could not be exported due to the shortage of containers in the world.
That grain is not lost, because it can be kept for several months or even years. The figure reached in production is very important since, together with that of 2020, they are the highest in recent years. The projections of the sector for this 2022 is to exceed 380,000 tons.
“The number of plants sold to producers suggests that we will have very rapid growth in the coming years. The projection for 2022 is to exceed 380,000 tons and reach 500,000 tons exported by Ecuador in 2025”, assured the president of Anecacao .
The results in economic values of last year are explained by the high prices that the product had in the first months of last year. In the last quarter, on the other hand, the price fell. But “in sum and subtraction we broke records in invoicing and sales of exported cocoa and its products,” he explained.
The cocoa market is variable as it is tied to the New York and London stock exchanges. At the beginning of 2021, the ton of cocoa exceeded USD 2,700 and by the end of the year it was around USD 2,100, Miranda said.
The decrease in the price of cocoa especially impacted producers at the time of the year’s highest harvest, which is the last quarter, said cocoa producer José Encalada.
In this period, a quintal of the product reached USD 80, when at the beginning of 2021 it was sold for more than USD 100. “Many cocoa growers lost in this period,” the cocoa grower lamented.
During the beginning of this 2022, the product also registers a high price. Currently, it is around USD 2,800 per ton. For this reason, Encalada recommended that producers who were able to save their grains sell them now.
For its part, the export sector recognized that those most affected by the reduction in prices were the producers and assured that they are working so that this does not happen again in 2022.
For cocoa exporters and producers, the commercial agreements currently sought by the Government are positive and represent an opportunity to reach large markets in better conditions.
An agreement with China would be very important for the sector, despite the fact that cocoa consumption per capita in that Asian country is low, however, it has more than 1.7 billion inhabitants. According to studies, each citizen of that nation tastes about 200 grams of chocolate, far from the 2.15 kilos of the Japanese or the 11.32 kilos of the Germans.
For its part, Mexico is a cocoa producer-maquiladora for the US market, currently it is already a buyer of Ecuadorian cocoa to transform it in that country.
“A zero tariff, which is what we are targeting as a sector, will allow us to enter the US market more dynamically through processors installed in Mexico,” Miranda said.
In addition, he added that the negotiation of the agreements should not only be about tariffs, but that para-tariff factors should be taken into account, which can limit the entry of Ecuadorian products to other countries.
The main destination of Ecuadorian cocoa, both grain and semi-finished, is the United States, where it ranks fifth among Ecuador’s non-oil exportable supply, behind shrimp, bananas, canned fish and flowers.
This North American country is followed by Indonesia, Malaysia, Holland, Mexico, among others. Among the semi-finished cocoa products exported, liquor or paste, butter, powder and more stand out.