[Cocoa beans being unloaded at Blommers]
Even as a ban on cocoa exports was declared Monday in the West African nation of Ivory Coast, the largest cocoa ship ever to sail from there to the United States was in Camden, unloading 18,600 metric tons of the beans destined to become succulent chocolate, creamy icings and cakes.
The effects of the one-month ban are unclear, but officials say the maiden voyage of the Atlantic Tramp still bodes well for the Camden and Philadelphia ports, which receive 70 percent to 80 percent of all U.S. cocoa bean imports from Ivory Coast – the world’s largest cocoa producer – Ghana and Indonesia.
…The Tramp brought 283,360 140-pound burlap bags of cocoa worth $60 million and representing 150,000 small farms in the Ivory Coast.
It docked Saturday night and will be unloaded over seven days by more than 100 longshoremen, dock and warehouse workers.
“We have three gangs working 10-hour days on this vessel because of the size and the amount of cargo,” said Michael Billups, vessel operations manager for Delaware River Stevedores. “This ship is three times bigger than a typical cocoa bean ship.”
Jeffrey Wheeler of Camden International Commodities Terminal, the warehouse distribution operator, said, “Every bag will have two people touching it. The supply chain itself is pretty amazing.”
(click to continue reading Chocolate port; cocoa ship unloads in Camden | Philadelphia Inquirer | 01/24/2011.)
[cocoa bean sacks, piled up at Blommer’s]
Meanwhile, political tension in the Ivory Coast threatens to disrupt future shipments, after the president-elect Monday ordered a ban on cocoa and coffee exports for a month – to cut off funds to the incumbent president, who refuses to step down. There was no guarantee that growers would comply, but cocoa climbed in New York Monday to its highest price in almost a year.
“We don’t expect any interruption,” Camden International’s Wheeler said. “The cocoa we are dealing with in our next few ships was already bought and paid for. They are saying they will load anything that’s been contracted. But new contracts, they won’t.”
… All cocoa on the Atlantic Tramp has been bought by Blommer Chocolate, North America’s largest cocoa processor. “The majority of the cocoa on board comes from local farmers and farmer cooperatives in the region that Blommer has direct relationships with,” said Kip Walk, director of Blommer’s cocoa department.
What happens if the embargo continues long enough to shut down production in America? Will it effect the situation in Ivory Coast? And just last summer, a guy by the name of Anthony Ward tried to purchase all the cocoa beans he could, remember?
From the NYT 1/24/11:
The bank1 governor, Philippe-Henri Dacoury-Tabley, had allowed Mr. Gbagbo2 to withdraw as much as $200 million despite the ban, according to a spokesman for the man the world recognizes as the winner of Ivory Coast’s presidential election, Alassane Ouattara.
Late Sunday, Mr. Ouattara called for a one-month halt to coffee and cocoa exports, the main source of revenue for the government, which draws about $1.6 billion a year in taxes and duties from cocoa alone. “Those who violate this measure will be considered as financing the activities of the illegitimate administration of Mr. Laurent Gbagbo,” said a statement from Mr. Ouattara’s government, which operates from a hotel in Abidjan.
It was unclear how Mr. Ouattara intended to enforce the measure, as state institutions — the military, the civil service and the ports — are in the hands of those loyal to Mr. Gbagbo, and cocoa companies have so far not halted their business. Still, the price of cocoa shot up on Monday.
Last week, the European Union imposed a ban on doing business with the country’s ports, as well as the freezing of the European-held assets of various Ivorian firms and banks, including the ports, the state broadcasters and the national oil company.
(click to continue reading Call for Tougher Measures Against Gbagbo in Ivory Coast – NYTimes.com.)Footnotes: