Cocoa Exports Banned From Ivory Coast

Cacao Beans - Blommer Chocoalte

[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.)

Discarded Burlaps at Blommer Chocolate

[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 –

  1. Central Bank of West African States []
  2. Laurent Gbagbo who lost a presidential election in Ivory Coast last year but refuses to step down []

Anthony Ward Buys Up All The Cocoa Beans

Well, as many as he could get at least

Cacao Beans - Blommer Chocoalte

[Blommer Chocolate -A conveyor belt of cocoa beans feeds the factory]

Last week Anthony Ward, manager of the hedge fund Armajaro Holdings, made a big bet on the rising price of chocolate by picking up about $1 billion worth of cocoa beans. And in a departure from business as usual, where traders simply trade the rights to buy or sell commodities at a certain price in the future, Ward had all 240,000 tons physically delivered to Armajaro.

Issouf Sanogo, AFP / Getty Images Anthony Ward, manager of the hedge fund Armajaro Holdings, made a big bet on the rising price of chocolate by picking up about $1 billion worth of cocoa beans.Representing the largest delivery of the product in 14 years, it was a stunning move — yet one in keeping with the money man the British press has dubbed “Choc Finger,” after the Bond villain Goldfinger.

World chocolate prices have more than doubled in the past two years, and poor harvests in Ghana and the Ivory Coast have further squeezed supply. Some analysts now worry that Ward’s purchase is an attempt to gain enough power to manipulate the market.

“If it looks like cornering, feels like cornering, it probably is cornering,” Eugen Weinberg, an analyst with German financial institution Commerzbank, told the Telegraph.

Some have noted that Ward made a tidy profit off poor African cocoa bean harvests in 2006 with a similar deal, clearing about $60 million off a purchase of 200,000 tons.

(click to continue reading British Hedge Fund Manager Anthony Ward Buys Up $1 Billion Worth of Cocoa Beans.)

Dedicated to all the…Fans Out There

Death at Blommer Chocolate

The ABCs of Chocolate
[The ABCs of Chocolate-across from Blommer Chocolate Company]

First off, I have great sympathy for Gerardo Castillo’s family, that’s got to be a hard way to die.

Chicago officials and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration hunted Monday for the cause of a fatal gas release that killed a North Side man and hospitalized two others at a chocolate factory on the Near West Side over the weekend. Gerardo Castillo, 30, was killed Sunday in the second fatal accident since 2001 at Blommer Chocolate Co., 600 W. Kinzie St.

Castillo of the 1700 block of West Olive Avenue was pronounced dead at Northwestern Memorial Hospital after a release of ammonialike fumes at the factory. A substance mixed into the chocolate somehow triggered a gaseous chemical reaction, a Chicago Fire Department spokesman said.


OSHA last inspected the facility in 1994, said federal compliance officer Tricia Railton, who was reading from a report. Those safety investigations had to do with workers who were cleaning a piece of equipment that either had not been disconnected or was not marked as being potentially dangerous to the cleaners if turned on. It was not immediately clear if an injury prompted that inspection, Railton said. In 2005, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sent an inspector to check the factory after a neighbor complained about the aroma of burnt chocolate. The unidentified complainant also noted a powder-filled plume churning out of a roof duct.

Based on what the inspector saw two mornings in early September, the EPA cited Blommer for violating limits on opacity, or the amount of light blocked by the factory’s grinder dust.

[From U.S., city probing death at chocolate factory —]

But this EPA thing has been ongoing for a while. In fact, we mentioned it to Alderman Reilly when we met him in his office just prior to Reilly being sworn in, and his staff was going to look into it. Pollution and particulates are pollution and particulates, even if they smell like chocolate, and shouldn’t be allowed to permeate the lungs of local residents (like myself, ahem). I am curious as to what the details of this September investigation actually were.

Previous coverage of Blommer on my old blog

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