U.S. first-quarter cocoa grind drops nearly 7%

by Ron Sterk
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NEW YORK — U.S. cocoa grind in the first quarter declined 6.8% from the same period a year ago, the Chocolate Manufacturers Association (C.M.A.) and the New York Board of Trade said Friday.

A total of 97,584 tonnes of cocoa beans were ground in the January-March period, down 7,106 tonnes, or 6.8%, from 104,690 tonnes ground in the first quarter of 2006, the C.M.A. said. Cocoa traders had expected the grind to be unchanged to down 5% from a year ago.

Cocoa butter melted in the first quarter was 10,066 tonnes, down 330 tonnes, or 3.2%, from a year earlier. Chocolate liquor melted for the period was 3,704 tonnes, down 427 tonnes, or 10.3%, from a year ago, the C.M.A. said.

Companies responding to the first quarter survey were ADM Cocoa; Barry Callebaut North America; The Blommer Chocolate Co.; Brach’s Confections, Inc.; Ghirardelli Chocolate Co.; Guittard Chocolate Co.; The Hershey Co.; Masterfoods, USA; Nestle Chocolate and Confections; Cargill Cocoa and Chocolate; and World’s Finest Chocolate, Inc.

Last week the European Cocoa Association (E.C.A.) reported first-quarter cocoa grind in Europe at 338,495 tonnes, up 4.4% from the same period in 2006. Members of the E.C.A. account for about two-thirds of total European grind.

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