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A Spat between West Africa’s Top Cocoa Producers and Big Chocolate Companies Intensifies

This week cocoa farmers in Ivory Coast threatened to stop their activities for “one to two years” in the latest escalation of a row between West Africa’s cocoa producers and large chocolate companies. More than 500 farming industry representatives met in the Ivorian capital Yamoussoukro to discuss taking action against chocolate giants Hershey and Mars, which they accuse of trying to avoid paying a newly introduced $400 per tonne premium on cocoa. The farmers say they can pivot to producing cassava and other crops if their demands are not met. The premium was introduced in July by Ghana and Ivory Coast, who produce more than 60% of the world’s cocoa, in a bid to improve the lives of impoverished farmers. The possibility of a farmers’ boycott adds to the action taken on Monday by Ghanaian and Ivorian regulators to cancel sustainability schemes run by Hershey, which they accused of sourcing large volumes of physical cocoa on the ICE futures exchange in order to avoid the premium.