Cocoa beans are the dried and fully fermented seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree. Cocoa solids and cocoa butter are extracted from these seeds. The cacao tree is indigenous to the Americas, having originated in Central America and some parts of Mexico. However, about 70% of the world's cocoa today is produced by West African nations. The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) ranks cocoa beans as the 443rd most traded commodity in the world. In the year 2016, the net worth of the cocoa beans export market was approximately $4.74 billion. The following report provides a breakdown of the top 5 cocoa beans exporting countries in 2016 according to export value.
Leading Exporters of Cocoa Beans by Export Value in 2016
Cocoa is the main cash crop of Ghana and the country's chief agricultural export. Among the top producers of cocoa in the world, Ghana comes second after the Ivory Coast. The government of Ghana controls the cocoa sector through the Cocoa Marketing Board. Cocoa cultivation in the nation is carried out in forested areas like the Ashanti, Central, Brong-Ahafo, and the Volta Regions. After the crop is harvested, cocoa beans are dried and fermented for export to countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, and the United States for processing. In 2016, the value of Ghana's cocoa beans exports amounted to about $1.89 billion, making up 39% of the global market share.
Ecuador is a recognized producer of high-quality cacao beans. The nation produces a unique native variety of cocoa beans known as Arriba or Nacional. The cacao beans have distinctive aromas and flavors which differentiate them from those produced in other countries and they fetch higher market prices. Ecuador produces just about 4% of the world's cocoa beans, but this quantity makes up around 70% of the fine flavor variety. In 2016, the value of Ecuador's cocoa beans exports was around $621 million making it the second largest exporter of the commodity in the world by export value.
The second largest cocoa port in the world is located at Antwerp, Belgium. The nation imports cocoa beans directly from producing countries with the Ivory Coast and Ghana being the biggest suppliers respectively. The country's chocolate processing sector uses part of the cocoa beans while the rest are re-exported to other nations. The top importers of cocoa beans from Belgium include Germany, France, Austria, and the Netherlands. The value of Belgium's cocoa beans exports in 2016 was $613 million constituting 13% of the global market share.
The Netherlands was the fourth largest exporter of cocoa beans by export value in 2016, earning around $439 million from the trade. The country is the top importer of the product in the world, with Amsterdam being home to the largest cocoa port in the world. The Netherlands processes the cocoa beans into chocolate and other semi-finished products like cocoa powder and cocoa butter and re-exports the excess to other countries including Germany and Belgium.
Malaysia is the leading processor of cocoa in Asia and Oceania, and the fifth largest in the globe. Since the country's yield is not sufficient for its large processing sector, Malaysia imports most of its cocoa beans with Papua New Guinea being its top supplier. After processing the cocoa beans, the country exports finished products like cocoa powder and chocolate, semi-fished products such as partially defatted cocoa paste, as well as excess dried beans. The country exported $276 million worth of cocoa beans in 2016, making it the fifth largest exporter of the commodity globally.
Other Cocoa Bean Exporting Countries
The total export value of cocoa beans from the five countries was $3.839 billion, constituting 80% of the global market value. Other significant exporters of the product include the Dominican Republic, Peru, Estonia, Indonesia, and Germany.