North American cocoa grindings increased 1.03% in the first quarter to 129,007 metric tons, the sixth straight quarter of increases, according to the NCA. The results were in line with industry estimates that ranged from unchanged to a 1.2% increase. The NCA also revised the amount reported for the first quarter of 2013 to 127,692 metric tons. Europe's first quarter grind was up 0.4% while Asia's increased 3.7% even as Malaysia's grind was down 13.6%.
The cocoa grind in Europe dropped 3.9% in the first quarter compared to a year earlier, bringing it to its lowest level since 2009. Euromonitor analyst Francesco Redruello said obesity concerns and continued economic woes explain the dip.
Chocolate companies Barry Callebaut, Mars and Cargill are giving fertilizer to Ivory Coast cocoa farmers. "The idea is that cocoa companies in the future will pre-finance fertilizer for the farmers and the farmers will pay back with cocoa beans, which they can, through their increased yields," said Daan de Wit, spokesman for IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative.
Barry Callebaut is considering Timothy Minges, chairman of PepsiCo's business in Greater China, and Fernando Aguiree, the former chairman and CEO of Chiquita, as possible board members. "Both of them are specifically strong in emerging markets -- one in South America and one in Asia. That was a strong priority we gave to the search," said CEO Juergen Steinemann.