Barry Callebaut considers Asia

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cocoa-beansBarry Callebaut expects cocoa prices to gain further this year on supply concerns in top cocoa regions in West Africa and a recovery in global demand. The Swiss-based firm says prospects of weaker output from top grower Ivory Coast have shifted some of the company’s focus to Asia.

CEO Juergen Steinemann noted recently that Malaysia may drive some of the expansion once farmers improve the flavour of their beans through microbial fermentation to cater to a global market used to Ivory Coast beans. “Fundamentally, demand is higher than offers. Prices should go up,” Steinemann told reporters at Malaysia’s administrative capital of Putrajaya.

“Asia is the logical move away from Africa. Malaysia is the largest grinder in this region and we want to use our collaboration with the Malaysian Cocoa Board (MCB) to improve the quality of cocoa and improve the incomes of farmers.”

Under the three-year project, the MCB will ferment cocoa beans using microbe cultures developed by Barry Callebaut. MCB Director-General Azhar Ismail said Barry Callebaut will purchase the beans at a premium to local market prices.