September 20, 2017 / 4:54 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Olam cocoa boss sees 2017/18 Ivory Coast main crop down 10 pct

(Adds detail, background)

ABIDJAN, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Olam International’s top cocoa official said on Wednesday that he expects top producer Ivory Coast’s production during the October-to-March main crop to fall by at least 10 percent from last year’s record 1.5 million tonnes.

Gerard Manley said in an interview that Ivory Coast’s overall production of 2 million tonnes in the 2016/17 season was exceptional because of favourable weather and that it should expect production of between 1.85 million tonnes and 2 million tonnes in the coming years.

A supply glut on the world market has driven down prices. The Ivorian government slashed its farmgate price from 1,100 CFA francs/kg ($2.02) to 700 CFA francs/kg during the course of this season. The International Cocoa Organization forecasts a global surplus of 371,000 tonnes this season.

“I think that with this sort of lower price level we’re definitely seeing cutbacks in South America and in Asia, so Africa is still going to provide the bulk of cocoa,” Manley said.

Ivory Coast and Ghana, which together produce more than 60 percent of the world’s cocoa, have held joint meetings aimed at harmonising cocoa production and marketing in an attempt to boost their influence over the New York and London markets.

Manley also said that boosting yields was critical to efforts to combat deforestation in countries such as Ivory Coast, saying that cocoa producers should aim to double yields to at least 700 kg/hectare. ($1 = 544.0000 CFA francs) (Reporting By Ange Aboa; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by David Goodman)

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