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Biggest cocoa growers seek larger slice of chocolate profits

[ACCRA,Ghana] The world's biggest cocoa-growing nations in West Africa are targeting a larger slice of chocolate-making profits as most of the benefits of producing beans accrue outside their economies, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo said.

Farmers in Ivory Coast and Ghana, the two countries which account for more than 60 per cent of global cocoa output, earned the equivalent of 5.5 per cent of a value chain that was worth more than US$100 billion in 2015, Mr Akufo-Addo told Bloomberg Television's Francine Lacqua in an interview at the Global Business Forum in New York. The nations' governments are in regular talks about joint efforts to market cocoa better and develop new markets for the beans, he said.

"We have to make the chocolates ourselves," Akufo-Addo said on Wednesday. "So far, either out of negligence on our part, or difficulties in mobilizing the finance and the technology, we've not been able to do it. We need to find a way to connect the raw material to the finished product."

Cocoa-producing nations are looking for new ways to extract value from growing beans to counter prices that have fallen more than 40 per cent since 2015, hurting their economies. Most beans are exported unprocessed to chocolatiers such as Nestle SA and Barry Callebaut AG.

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Ivory Coast aims to process as much as 50 per cent of the cocoa it grows annually by 2020 from about 35 present at the moment. Last year, the nation introduced tax breaks for local cocoa grinders that plan to expand their processing capacity.

The countries "have to make sure that we are competitive and that our enterprises can make the higher-end products that the world economy requires," Akufo-Addo said. "That is where the value is."

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