DALOA, Ivory Coast May 24 Insufficient rain has
dented the size and quality of cocoa beans delivered to Ivory
Coast's main ports of Abidjan and San Pedro, despite recent
improvements, growers and exporters told Reuters.
Acid levels have fallen in recent weeks but remain above
European Union standards in the world's top grower because of a
lack of rain while bean sizes remain small.
Bean acidity is measured by free fatty acid (FFA) levels,
which when high erode the quality of cocoa butter. FFA levels
were around 3 percent this week, growers said, above the E.U.'s
1.75 ceiling. FFA levels had reached as high as 5 percent in
recent weeks, causing some grinders to reject the beans.
"Generally speaking, the quality is not yet good even if the
FFA is now towards 3 percent," said the director of an
international export company.
Bean size is also a problem, in part due to the heat which
has hit development of pods.
Reuters found that bean counts in the main production areas
of Daloa, Vavoua, Duekoue, Soubre, Bouafle and Issia weighed in
mostly between 130 and 140 beans per 100 grams, higher than
exporters' expectations of around 110 beans per gram.
"We think that the quality will change towards July but for
now the grainage is too high," said Fousseni Coulibaly, a pod
counter in Duekoue. "It's better than last year, but we expected
(Reporting by Ange Aboa, writing by Edward McAllister, editing
by Ed Osmond)