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There were 5.2 million tonnes of cocoa beans produced in 2017 supplying an ever-increasing worldwide demand for chocolate. The global chocolate market was valued at USD 103.28 billion in 2017 and expected to grow to around USD 161.56 billion by 2024.6

So which countries are feeding this huge demand and satisfying the worldwide love of cocoa and chocolate.

Here are the top 10 cocoa producing countries in 2017 according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.


Colombia is the tenth largest cocoa producer in the world yielding 56,808 tonnes of cocoa in 2017, grown on over 200,000 hectares of land. The industry supports the livelihoods of 50,000 farmers that each cultivates an average of 3.5 hectares.7

Colombia produces some of the finest cocoa beans in the world and they mostly grow the highly sought after Crillio and Trinitario varieties. It is grown in the regions of Santander, the north of Antioquia and the south of Córdoba.8

The cocoa industry in Colombia has had the nearly impossible task of competing with the drug trade. This trade fights for the use of the same land and pays a far higher income cultivating illegal crops.

In spite of this, Colombia has managed to produce enough cocoa to be self-sufficient and to feed its domestic market.

The government and the National Cocoa Federation of Colombia have joined the Ivory Coast and Ghana in signing up to the ‘Cocoa, Forests and Peace Initiative’. It commits to eliminating deforestation for the cultivation of cocoa and pledges to produce ‘peace-friendly’ cocoa. 9


The Dominican Republic is the largest cocoa producer in the Caribbean with 86,599 tonnes in 2017 and is a leader in sustainable, fair-trade and organic cocoa.

The cocoa industry is clearly important to the economy of the island as it sustains 40,000 farmers, employs 350,000 people and earned the country $261 million in 2015.10 The island is aiming to considerably increase its cocoa yields and in the last decade have grown their cocoa exports by 322% and aim to triple it by 2027.11

The Dominican Republic cultivates two varieties of cocoa, the Hispaniola and the Sanchez at about 4% and 96% of production respectively.12


Cacao most likely originated in the Amazon basin around Peru and now Peruvian chocolate is considered to be some of the finest in the world.

They, like Colombia, have had to fight the allure of the cocaine trade and the higher income offered by the Coca plant. However, the government is encouraging the cultivation of cacao and de-emphasising the growth of illicit crops.

Peru produced a total of 121,825 tonnes of cocoa in 2017 and is seeing rapid growth each year. Over half of their cocoa exports are beans with 20% being organic and the rest is made up of post-processed products such as cocoa butter, liquor, powder and husks.

Cocoa plantations are spread throughout the country with the main growing areas in La Convención and Lares, Huallaga, Apurímac-Ene and Alto Marañón, all in the Eastern Andes



People have been processing and consuming cocoa for over 5000 years in Equador, which was discovered from chemical residues found on ancient pottery.15 More recently, Ecuador produced 205,955 tonnes of cocoa in 2017 which makes them the seventh largest cocoa producing country in the world and earning them $700 million to their economy.

Ecuador cannot compete with West Africa when it comes to volume, but they can compete with them when it comes to quality. They are unique in that they are the only country that grows the Arriba and Nacional varieties of cocoa, which are world renowned for their quality. Ecuador supplies more than 60% of the worlds ‘fine-flavour’ cocoa, which is coveted among artisanal and bean to bar chocolate makers the world over.16


Brazil is a vast country and was once a leading producer of cocoa until the deadly fungus witches’ broom destroyed the plantations and decimated the industry in the 1990s. Brazil went from a cocoa production of 400,000 tonnes in the 1990s to 160,000 tonnes in 2003.17 They have recovered slightly to 235,809 tonnes in 2017 and with a surge of new planting, Brazil’s National Association of the Cocoa Processing Industry (AIPC) expects to nearly double production by 2028.18

Brazil famously grows cocoa in the State of Bahia, but also to a large extent in the Amazon basin and Espiritu Santo. The country is well known for growing the Forastero variety.


West Africa is by far the largest cocoa producing region in the world and Cameroon is the fourth largest producing country in this region with 295,028 tonnes in 2017. The sector is vitally important to the country as it is the second largest source of foreign currency and supplies jobs to over 600,000 people.19

The country’s cocoa yields have been steadily increasing over the last few years, but not without issues. The country has been suffering internal strife since 2016, particularly in the cocoa-producing Anglophone regions. This has led to cocoa farmers abandoning their plantations in order to escape the violence between the government and separatists.20

Cocoa is grown in 8 out of the 10 regions, but chiefly in the coastal zone extending from Cameroon to Kribe and in the Center South East region. It takes up approximately 450,000 hectares of land.21


Cocoa is the largest agricultural export for Nigeria, supporting 300,000 farmers and taking up 800,000 hectares of land.22 Nigeria produced 328,263 tonnes of cocoa in 2017 representing around 2 percent of the country’s exports. The regions that predominantly grow cocoa include Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Oyo and Ekiti and they produce 60 percent of the country’s total output.23

Nigeria used to be the second biggest producer of cocoa in the world pre-1970, but this declined with the discovery of large amounts of crude oil. The country has suffered heavily recently with the collapse in the price of oil and with the fact they have old cocoa trees, ageing farmers, low yields and a lack of cocoa knowledge among farmers.24

Looking positively, the country has shifted its attention back to cocoa cultivation and they still have the available land and climate to reinvigorate the industry and to revive their economy. It seems to have been working as the Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN) oversaw a 20% increase in cocoa production from 2016 to 2017. 25


Indonesia expanded rapidly into the cocoa industry over the last few decades to become the third biggest cocoa producer in the world, despite the fact they hardly grew cocoa before the 1980s. Indonesia produced 659,776 tonnes of cocoa in 2017 making it their fourth largest agricultural export.26

The country uses roughly 1.5 million hectares of land for the cultivation of cocoa and about 75 percent of that production coming from the island of Sulawesi.27 The rest of their cocoa is grown in North Sumatra, West Java, Papua and East Kalimantan. Also, up to 85 percent of the country’s cocoa is grown by small-scale farmers.

However, the cocoa industry in Indonesia is going through a bit of a downturn with production output shrinking over the last few years. This is due to ageing trees, low productivity, low domestic consumption and farmers switching to more profitable crops.28


Cocoa is the main cash crop of Ghana taking up an estimated 1.9 million hectares of land and supporting over 800,000 people that make a living out of the sector.29 Ghana is the second biggest cocoa producing country in the world with 883,652 tonnes in 2017, generating about $2billion in foreign exchange annually.30

More than 70% of that being exported to Europe and America and a quarter of it being processed within the country. They have announced plans to increase the local processing of their own beans to 50% with a partnership with China and the opening of a new $60 million factory.31

The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) intends to significantly increase their cocoa production despite the worldwide overproduction and the subsequent drop in price.

However, this will be difficult to organise due to the fact that the majority of cocoa produced in Ghana is done by peasant farmers on small plots of land.

Ghana has also faced the problems of child labour and deforestation. There is possibly over a million children working in the cocoa industry and the country has lost over a quarter of its forest cover between 1990 and 2005 and another 500,000 hectares between 2001 and 2013.32


The Ivory Coast is by far the largest cocoa producing country in the world supplying over 30% of the world’s cocoa beans at 2,034,000 tonnes in 2017. The cocoa industry is hugely important to the economy of the country as it accounts for 40.2% of its export income.33

It is a vital crop for the government and people of the country with roughly 600,000 farmers and 6 million people relying on the industry to survive. The growth of the industry hasn’t come without its struggles. They have had to deal with mass deforestation, weather-related problems, financial difficulties and child labour.34 But the good news is that they have signed a pact with their neighbour Ghana to prevent any further deforestation for the cocoa industry and to improve the interests of the farmers.



The projections employed dynamic time series models to analyse the world cocoa economy. Essentially, autoregressive distributed lag models were used to capture the dynamic process of market adjustment in the world cocoa bean market. The forecasts are obtained from s -step a-head ADL models, where “s” is the forecast horizon. International cocoa prices were included as exogenous factors. Their values over the forecast horizon were obtained from their autoregressive representations. Projections were based on the assumption of normal weather conditions, and a continuation of the past trends in yields, planted areas, population and income growth. Adjustments were made to reflect current policies and future market prospects. The forecasting models captured cycles and trends in the world cocoa beans market to a satisfactory level.


World cocoa production is projected to grow at a rate of 2.2 percent a year, from 1998 – 2000 to 2010, compared with the 1.7 percent growth during the previous decade, and reach 3.7 million tonnes. During the same period, Africa’s share in the global production is expected to decrease slightly from 69 percent to 68 percent, while the share of the Far East is projected to remain at 18 percent and that of Latin America and the Caribbean at 14 percent.

Africa is expected to remain the world’s leading cocoa producing area over the next decade. Production in Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s largest cocoa bean producer, should grow by 2.3 percent a year from 1.2 million tonnes of the base period to 1.6 million tonnes in 2010, and account for 44 percent of global cocoa production due mainly to the increased foreign direct investment followed by the market liberalization. Yields in Côte d’Ivoire are well below levels seen in Asia partly because of less use of agricultural inputs. However, the recent surge in world cocoa prices has made it easier for the growers to use more inputs. If this trend continues, volume of cocoa produced in Côte d’Ivoire could increase further. Output in Ghana, the second largest cocoa bean producer in Africa, would grow from 410 000 tonnes in 1998 – 2000 to 490 000 tonnes in 2010, an annual average growth rate of 1.6 percent. The corresponding growth rate for the previous decade was 3.3 percent. The lower projected growth rate over the next decade would result from the outbreak of diseases (such as swollen shoot virus, black pod and mirids), increased competition at the world market and low export prices. Over the same period, Nigeria and Cameroon are projected to increase outputs by 1.4 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.

Cocoa production in Latin America is projected to increase from 397 000 tonnes during the base period to 520 000 tonnes in 2010, an annual growth rate of 2.5 percent. Outputs in Brazil, the largest cocoa bean producer in the region, and Colombia, the third largest, are expected to fall, but an increase in outputs in other cocoa producing countries in the region would more than offset the decline. Output in Brazil is projected to increase by 2.2 percent annually and reach 180 000 tonnes by 2010. The production and yields of cocoa beans in Brazil have decreased during the previous decade because of the detrimental production loss caused by witches’ broom disease. The recently found [discovered?] use of new varieties would not bring the production back to the level achieved during the 1980s, because some producers have already switched to alternative crops, discouraged by the recent low world prices. During the same period, output in Ecuador, the second largest cocoa bean producer in Latin America, would increase by 0.8 percent annually and reach 94 000 tonnes. Ecuador has successfully used a new variety resistance to the witches’ broom disease, which had also affected their cocoa production areas. However, growth is expected to be only slight because of the increasing costs of production and lower returns to growers. In Colombia, outputs are projected to fall by 3.1 percent per annum. On the other hand, outputs in Dominican Republic and Mexico are expected to grow by 1.8 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.

In the Far East, production had grown rapidly over the past two decades, and this growth is likely to continue. Production in the Far East is projected to grow by 2.7 percent per year from 509 000 tonnes during the base period to 680 000 tonnes in 2010 reflecting the expected improvement in yields. The Far East is expected to replace Latin America and the Caribbean as the second largest cocoa producing region by 2010. Most of the production growth in Asia would come from Indonesia, the world’s third largest cocoa bean producer after Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Production in Indonesia is projected to grow by 3.5 percent annually to 574 000 tonnes in 2010 and account for 16 percent of the global production by 2010, compared to 14 percent in 1998 – 2000. In Indonesia, the Government policies had encouraged expansion of production, and most of the increases during the last two decades were bulk cocoa coming from hybrid trees. While the expansion of production area in Indonesia has slowed since the late 1990s, yields in the country are still the highest among major cocoa producing countries. A close link between the world market prices and the producer prices in Indonesia also contributed to the country’s high yields. Since the growers earn a high proportion of the market prices, they can invest in inputs, which in turn results in improvement in yields. Production in Malaysia, where expansions of urban areas and real estate development have reduced cocoa producing areas, is projected to fall by 1.7 percent annually and reach 43 000 by 2010. The downward trend has been observed since the early 1990s when the outbreak of disease coincided with the deterioration of country’s macro-economic conditions. In addition, farmers switched to production from cocoa to more lucrative crops, such as palm oil, in response to the fall in world cocoa prices during the 1990s. Therefore, outputs in Malaysia are unlikely to rebound to the level achieved a couple of decades ago.


In 2010 world grindings of cocoa beans, a proxy for world cocoa consumption, would amount to 3.6 million tonnes, reflecting an average annual increase of 2.1 percent from 2.8 million tonnes during the base period. Consumption will continue to be concentrated in developed counties, which are expected to account for 64 percent of world cocoa consumption in 2010. Consumption in these countries is projected to increase at an annual rate of 2.2 percent from 1.8 million tonnes during the base period to 2.3 million tonnes in 2010.

Consumption in Europe is projected to grow by 1.7 percent per annum and reach 1.4 million tonnes. Europe is likely to continue to be the world’s largest cocoa consuming area, accounting for 40 percent of global cocoa consumption in 2010. Chocolate and cocoa based products in the EU are currently governed by a 2000 directive which authorises the replacement of cocoa butter by less expensive cocoa butter substitutes up to 5 of the total weight of the finished product. Under the Directive, chocolate products that contain vegetable fats other than cocoa butter may be marketed in the EU provided that their labelling is supplemented by a statement. Member countries have until August 2003 to implement national laws to enforce this directive. Consumption in North America, the world’s second largest cocoa consuming area, is likely to grow by 3.6 percent per annum and reach 703 000 tonnes. In the former Soviet Union/CIS, consumption is expected to grow by 0.8 percent per annum from 65 000 tonnes to 71 000 tonnes, reflecting expected increase in income in these countries. In Japan, consumption is expected to increase from 48 000 tonnes during the base period to 56 000 tonnes in 2010.

Consumption in developing countries as a group is expected to amount to 1.3 million tonnes by 2010, an annual growth rate of 1.8 percent. Africa, where capital formation for grindings has grown rapidly over the past decade, will remain the largest consuming region in this group, accounting for 35 percent of the consumption of developing countries. The share of consumption in Latin America and Caribbean, where the relative cost for grindings are higher compared to Africa, is expected to decrease from 32 percent to 28 percent. In the Far East, where per capita consumption is still small, the share in consumption is projected to increase from 31 percent during the same period to 34 percent by 2010.


By 2010 the world cocoa market is expected to be approximately in balance. Beans will continue to form the large majority of cocoa exports, despite some increase of processing capacity in producing countries, especially those in Africa. Global cocoa bean exports are projected to reach 3.0 million tonnes by 2010, an average annual growth rate of 2.8 percent. Total exports from Africa are expected to grow by 2.8 percent annually from 1.7 million tonnes during the base period to 2.3 million tonnes in 2010, with Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria achieving an annual average growth rate of about 3 percent. Exports from Côte d’Ivoire are projected to increase to 1.5 million tonnes by 2010, or 51 percent of the global cocoa exports, although this growth is subject to the development of its current political instability. Exports from Ghana would reach 469 000 tonnes or 16 percent of the world total. The share of African exports in the world market is expected to remain stable, about 78 percent of the global exports.

Exports from the Far East, which increased rapidly during the 1980s and continued to grow at a lower rate during the 1990s, are expected to grow further and reach 529 000 tonnes by 2010. The increase in the Far East during the 1980s resulted mainly from rapidly growing shipments from Malaysia that accounted for 54 percent of the exports from the region. However, exports fell dramatically during the 1990s when farmers switched production. The increase in exports during the current decade is likely to result mostly from the increase in yields, and the share of the Malaysian exports in the region should increase only slightly, from 4.6 percent during the base period to 5.3 percent in 2010. On the other hand, exports from Indonesia grew rapidly during the 1980s and 1990s and are projected to continue to grow at 4.3 percent per year over the next decade and account for 98 percent of cocoa bean exports from the Far East by 2010, compared to 30 percent during the 1980s and 84 percent during the 1990s.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, cocoa exports are projected to increase from 97 000 tonnes during the base period to 130 000 tonnes reflecting increased exports from Brazil where production is expected to recover from the loss caused by the witches’ broom disease.

Global cocoa imports are expected to increase by 2.2 percent annually between 1998 – 2000 and 2010, compared with 3.1 percent during the previous decade. Imports in developed counties as a group are expected to grow at an annual rate of 2.5 percent to 2.6 million tonnes. Europe should continue to be the main consumer of cocoa, accounting for 65 percent of global cocoa imports in 2010. In North America, imports are projected to grow by 0.3 percent per year, to reach 505 000 tonnes by 2010. Shipments to the countries of the former Soviet Union/the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) are likely to decrease slightly by 1.1 percent per annum. In Japan, imports are expected to increase by 1.4 percent per year from 48 000 tonnes in 1998 – 2000 to 56 000 tonnes in 2010. Imports in developing countries as a group are projected to remain unchanged and would account for 11.3 percent of world cocoa imports, compared with the 14 percent during the previous decade.

Issues and uncertainties

The projections show an approximate balance in the world cocoa economy by 2010. However, in any single year, the size of a surplus or deficit continues to depend on weather conditions, market prices and changes in the level of stocks. Analysis on market prospects to 2010 suggests that global cocoa trade will continue to expand. However, the rate of expansion would be slower compared to the previous decade constrained by lower consumption growth in most of the major markets. Prices of cocoa beans in 2000/2001 were at their lowest levels in three decades, mainly due to a fundamental oversupply. Although some recovery in cocoa prices has occurred since mid – 2001 as a result of the combination of reduced world cocoa bean production and increased speculative buying, prices of cocoa are not likely to improve significantly in the medium term, with low consumption expansion and steady production growth.

In the period to 2010, cocoa exports from developing countries would continue to be mainly in the form of beans. This suggests that the benefits of cocoa processing in adding value will continue to be enjoyed mainly by the importing countries. Cocoa producing countries have been aware of the need for developing the local grindings of beans to add value to their exports. Some African countries have increased their local processing capacity by providing subsidy, but most producing countries have not yet been able to increase the value addition to their exports. A major obstacle hindering the local processing of beans has not been the processing capacity itself, but the high degree of vertical integration of the multinational firms in the cocoa and chocolate industry, most of which have traditionally been established in importing countries. What the producing countries need most are efficient and sophisticated marketing skills. Unless this issue is solved, the benefit of value addition will continue to be distributed mostly among traditional bean importing countries while income of farmers would stay low.

Table 2.29. Cocoa: actual and projected production


1988-19901998-200020101988-90 to1998-2000

1998-2000to 2010

000 tonnesPercent per year

WORLD2 4602 9053 7001.72.2

DEVELOPING2 4602 9053 7001.72.2

AFRICA1 4141 9992 5003.52.1


Côte d’Ivoire7931 2491 6104.62.3




LATIN AMER. & CARIB.629397520-4.52.5



Dominican Rep.483644-2.81.8




FAR EAST4175096802.02.7



Papua New Guinea414045-0.21.1

Table 2.30. Cocoa: actual and projected consumption


1988-19901998-200020101988-90 to1998-2000

1998-2000to 2010

000 tonnesPercent per year

WORLD2 1642 8333 5542.72.1

DEVELOPING7871 0531 2843.01.8


LATIN AMERICA400338356-1.70.5






NEAR EAST5274418.44.5

FAR EAST2023224344.82.8

DEVELOPED1 3771 7802 2702.62.2

NORTH AMERICA2854767035.33.6


United States2624286345.03.6

EUROPE9161 1861 4332.61.7
EC8161 0951 3483.01.9









United Kingdom1261671342.9-2.0

Other Europe1009185-0.9-0.6



Former USSR1306571-6.70.8



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