Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cocoa anyone?

Cocoa came to my attention in July, when I saw this article.

"Chocolate lovers here are crying into their Cadbury wrappers — and rival traders are crying foul, saying Mr. Ward is stockpiling cocoa in a bid to drive up already high prices so he can sell later at a big profit. His activities have helped drive cocoa prices on the London market to a 30-year high."

He bought between $1 to $1.5 billion dollars of Cocoa, and stored it.  for a frame of reference the Cocoa market is estimated at $5.1 billion annually.  Prices have come down somewhat from that level, but intrigued me that one person can have such control.

Then I read this article in Scientific American Magazine, for October.

"Cacao trees were first domesticated more then 1,500 years ago by Mayans living in what is now Central America, but fungal diseases such as witch’s broom and frosty pod have largely chased the bean out of its native habitat. The great worry is that one of these diseases will cross the Atlantic Ocean to West Africa, where 70 percent of the crop is now produced. Cacao trees in West Africa have no resistance to the pathogens, which form spores and spread via the wind, careless farmers and, in at least one case, bioterrorists. Scientists say that just a few infected pods would lead to the loss of one third of total global production."

Then just read that Cameroon (6th largest producer) is having harvesting issues due to disease.  So I have been watching it.  It is climbing back into its channel, and there I will take a position.  But I am more interested in it breaking the downward trend lines.  Note also that January represents the seasonal low for cocoa prices.  Time and price can match up nicely then.


  1. About 15 years ago there was a lengthly article in Fortune magazine which spoke of a similar vulnerability which rubber plantations had to a particular blight. Fifteen years have passed, and I'd be curious to know what has happened to rubber in that time. My point is simply that if you're waiting for a biological accident you could be waiting for a very long time.

  2. Island Guy, no doubt. What struck me was what a small market this is and how quickly the supply demand picture can move in it. It definitely is on my daily watch list.


    Well, I guess I should have invested in rubber.