A ban on cocoa exports by the Ivory Coast pushed cocoa prices to 15-month highs this week. Alassane Ouattara, the political candidate who is widely believed to have won the Ivory Coast’s recent presidential election, imposed the ban in an attempt to oust his opponent, Laurent Gbagbom, from office.
In response, six major cocoa exporters have suspended their export operations in the country, including Cargill. ADM and Barry Callebaut said they are evaluating the situation, with the latter announcing that it expects not to be affected by the ban, as it currently has enough cocoa in its reserves to continue at a normal rate of processing. Although a month-long ban is not expected to cause major harm to the cocoa industry, analysts predict that prices will continue to rise in the following months, and some have expressed concerns that an extension of the ban could have a severe impact. The Ivory Coast is the world’s largest cocoa producer, and the trade is worth an estimated $1 billion a year to the country.