[LONDON] Latin America can play a key role in meeting rising demand for cocoa as production in Asia wanes, traders and analysts said at a meeting organised by the International Cocoa Organization.
Ecuador and Peru have led an expansion in the region which now accounts for about 16 per cent of global production, trailing Africa's 74 per cent but above Asia and Oceania's 10 per cent, according to ICCO figures.
"Looking forward I think Latin America (crops)...could compensate for 1 per cent of consumption growth leaving 1 per cent to be covered by the rest of the world, could be a solution," Max Goettler, a cocoa trader with Cocoanect BV, said.
Mr Goettler said cocoa production in the region was growing at a rate of 10 per cent a year and could account for 20 to 25 per cent of global production.
ICCO's head of economics and statistics Laurent Pipitone said Asia's decline had led to an over reliance on Africa to meet growing demand for cocoa.
"The share in production of Asia has been declining. This is explained first by the decline of production in Malaysia and more recently in Indonesia," he said.
"Asia was seen as an improving source of cocoa production in the past few years but we have this new development where production has been more on the decline and this is a worry for the cocoa sector."
Mr Pipitone said Asia had become a net importer of cocoa beans, mainly from Africa.