By Ange Aboa
ABIDJAN, June 19 (Reuters) – Ivory Coast’s domestic cocoa traders’ association (GNI) has asked multinationals, which have a monopoly on fairtrade certified cocoa contracts, to increase the volume of certified beans GNI can export, a letter seen by Reuters showed on Friday.
Western chocolate companies, such as Lindt and Hershey, pay a premium for sustainable cocoa made with fairtrade certification, buying mainly from multinational companies such as Cargill, Olam and Barry Callebaut.
Domestic exporters, which have less direct access to chocolate companies, win a much smaller share of these lucrative contracts. They therefore have less financial strength to buy cocoa beans, whose price the multinationals’ purchases inflates.
The multinational exporters’ group GEPEX, whose members hold 90% of certified contracts, previously agreed to help boost domestic competitiveness by sharing enough contracts to allow certified beans to comprise 35% of GNI traders’ combined annual exports of 230,000-260,000 tonnes.
GNI has asked GEPEX to increase this to 50%, it said in the letter addressed to the Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC), the Ivorian industry regulator involved in negotiations.
“We’re fighting for the survival of domestic Ivorian exporters,” GNI head Constance Kouame told Reuters. “We don’t want to get preferential treatment, but we want competition to be equal and fair,” she said in reference to the terms proposed in the letter.
Over the last three years, certified beans have represented around 45% of cocoa export volumes each season, or about 990,000 tonnes, industry figures show.
The CCC is seeking to help domestic exporters with reforms including the reduction of fees they pay when acquiring beans and the introduction of limits on the volumes of beans multinationals can stockpile, sources said in June. (Reporting by Ange Aboa; Editing by Alessandra Prentice and Barbara Lewis)