KANSAS CITY – Cocoa grindings in the second quarter in all the major markets were reported higher last week, indicating a pickup in what has been a somewhat slack pattern of demand.

That news propelled ICE Futures U.S. cocoa bean futures sharply higher last week. Although prices were slightly lower early July 22, the nearby September contract jumped about $100 a tonne last week and was up about $200 a tonne, or 9%, since late June.

The largest jump took place in North America, including the United States, Canada and Mexico, where the second-quarter cocoa bean grind was pegged at 126,044 tonnes, up 12% from the same quarter a year ago, according to the National Confectioners Association. The increase in grinding was far above expectations of a 3% to 4% rise.

Cocoa bean grindings are viewed as a proxy for chocolate demand, which experienced a prolonged period of weakness following the 2008 financial crisis. Analysts said the rising U.S. equities market probably was creating something of a wealth effect and making luxury consumer goods, including chocolate, more attractive.

Cocoa bean grindings in Europe, the leading per capita consumer of chocolate, also rose during the second quarter. The European Cocoa Association reported grind at 310,408 tonnes, an increase of 6% from the same quarter in 2012.

In Asia, reflecting grind n Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, second-quarter grindings were reported last week at 153,792 tonnes, up 2% from with the same quarter a year ago, the Cocoa Association of Asia said.
Increased second quarter cocoa bean grind in all three regions was a marked improvement over the first quarter, when North American grind increased 6% but European grind fell 4% and Asian grind was down 11% from the first quarter of 2012.