ABIDJAN, June 21 (Reuters) - The world's top two cocoa
producers Ivory Coast and Ghana on Monday threatened to name and
shame top chocolate brands who they say are undermining a scheme
aimed at paying cocoa farmers a living income.
The neighbouring West African states, who account for over
60% of global output of cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate,
are locked in a protracted battle with chocolate makers over the
price of their beans.
The countries introduced a $400 per tonne premium scheme
known as the Living Income Differential (LID) at the start of a
2020/2021 season to enable them pay farmers a decent income.
But a drop in demand because of COVID-19 and an abundant
harvest have left farmers with surplus beans.
A separate premium on beans from both countries paid by
chocolate makers also made their cocoa expensive in a sluggish
market, forcing cocoa buyers to demand discounts.
"While they are paying (the LID) on the right hand, they are
taking the money from the left hand by not paying the country
premium," Joseph Boahen Aidoo, the chief executive of Ghana's
cocoa regulator COCOBOD, told journalists in Abidjan.
"Once the country differential is discounted by between 100
and 250 pounds sterling ($348.25), it means essentially the LID
has been eroded," Aidoo said on the sideline of a meeting where
the countries launched an organisation to represent them.
He added that consumers buy brand chocolates and pay the
premium price for chocolate which should go to the farmers.
"This amounts to robbing the consumers by collecting premium
on bars of chocolate and then refusing to pay when buying cocoa
beans," he said. "Very soon the buyers may force us to name and
shame all those who are not paying the country premium."
He declined to name the chocolate makers.
Yves Brahima Kone, the head of Ivory Coast's Cocoa and
Coffee Council regulator, told journalists that some buyers in
the sector had a short-term view.
"They want to make money today and do not think about
tomorrow," adding that while the chocolate makers are reluctant
to pay the LID which could cost around $900 million globally,
the industry was spending $5 billion on marketing.
($1 = 0.7179 pounds)
(Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by David Gregorio)