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Cocoa prices increase as demand rises; Chocolates may become expensive
Tuesday, 07 October, 2014, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Libin Chacko Kurian, Mumbai
The demand and the price of domestically-produced cocoa are on the rise in India. As a result, the prices of chocolates could increase during the upcoming festive season. For a few years, Indian farmers have been struggling to produce high-quality cocoa, which has the potential to become an export product.

P J Chackochan, cocoa farmer and exporter based in Wayanad, Kerala, said, “It has increased by Rs 40 vis-a-vis last year. But even after the creation of new demand, farmers may not benefit, because of the monopoly of the companies which buy cocoa from them.”

“The production of cocoa on Indian farms has reduced, and companies are opting for chocolates coming from Africa, because they are of a superior quality,” he added.

In the past, half of India’s chocolate manufacturers were dependent on imports. But of late, with concerns about Ebola growing in Africa, companies have turned to the domestic yield.

“The spread of Ebola has constrained the import to India, which, in turn, has increased the demand for locally-produced cocoa. However, the Indian cocoa market and farmers continue to face a number of problems,” Chackochan informed.

“The lack of proper fermentation and the absence of quality processing in the farming of cocoa have distorted the prices and destroyed the market. Proper training must be imparted to farmers, and they must be encouraged to use better techniques,” he added.

“The companies buying cocoa from these farmers never look at the quality. By using more flavours, they would be able to manufacture chocolates for sale in the Indian market. Cocoa produced domestically has huge export potential also,” said Chackochan.

“If we can produce quality cocoa on our farmlands, we would get a great deal of demand from abroad. The price in the export market differs from that of the domestic market by Rs 80. This can make cocoa production profitable,” he added.

Swisswrap, a Mumbai-based chocolate manufacturer, said, “No change in the prices is expected due to the festive season. Demand fluctuations are driving the chocolate market, which may increase the prices.”

“Chocolate manufactures can find other markets. There is a huge market for chocolates, and it is increasing every year, with all the celebrations and festivals,” he added.
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