October 7, 2016 / 4:03 PM / a year ago

Ivory Coast's ICP cocoa grinder to raise capacity up to 50 pct

ABIDJAN, Oct 7 (Reuters) - The ICP cocoa grinding company in Ivory Coast’s port of San Pedro expects to increase its current annual capacity of 50,000 tonnes by 25 to 50 percent in the next three years, helped by new tax measures, its CEO said on Friday.

Ivory Cocoa Products (ICP) is one of 12 grinding companies in the West African country that have a combined annual capacity of 720,000 tonnes. But most produce 60 to 80 percent of that, and output has been further slashed by poor bean quality this year.

The Ivorian government announced reduced export taxes several months ago in a bid to encourage greater production and reward firms that grind locally. It aims to grind half its production domestically by 2020, up from about a third now.

A new tax scheme will be officially released in several weeks, the president of the Coffee and Cocoa Council said.

The government expects large trading houses such as Cocoa Barry, Olam and Cargill to boost capacity by at least 7.5 percent under the new scheme, but the companies have not yet said how much they plan to expand.

Taxes on exports of cocoa butter will fall to 11 percent from 14.6 percent and taxes on cocoa mass will drop to 13.2 percent from 14.6 percent, among other measures.

“It’s not what we wanted but it’s better than what we currently have and will allow us to continue our investment in the sector,” said ICP Chief Executive Ismael El Khalil.

The company has already doubled its grinding capacity since March to reach 50,000 tonnes, and the factory is designed for further expansion, Khalil added.

Ivory Coast is the world’s top cocoa producer and exporter and the second-largest producer of semi-finished products behind the Netherlands. (Reporting by Ange Aboa; Writing by Nellie Peyton; editing by Susan Thomas)

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