23 December 1998
Malaysia cuts cocoa production
MALAYSIAN cocoa processors have reduced production because the high cost of beans has made processing unprofitable.
The countrys 10 processors can deal with 145,000 tonnes of beans a year, but processed only 100,000 tonnes, according to the Malaysian Cocoa Board (MCB).
The price of beans has doubled to the equivalent of $1316/tonne (£782/t) as a result of the devaluation of the Malaysian currency and tight supply in the region.
There has also been poor demand for cocoa butter which is used to make chocolate.
Malaysian farmers had begun to convert from growing cocoa to planting palm oil but the MCB has tried to reverse this trend.
It has launched a programme to rehabilitate 29,000ha (71,658 acres) of unproductive cocoa farms.
Because of low production, Malaysian exports of cocoa beans will total less than 20,000 tonnes this year compared with 33,000 in 1997.
- Financial Times 23/12/98 page 22