Cocoa futures’ flying start to November will soon run into thin air, as export snarl-ups are resolved, Commerzbank warned, even as New York futures fell from six-month highs, and London ones from a 21-month top.

New York cocoa futures for December in early deals on Friday touched $2,580 per tonne, the highest level for a spot contract since early May, before falling back to $2,519 per tonne in late trading, down 1.5% on the day.

Even so, the contract remained up 7.9% for this month.

London December cocoa futures – which in the last session touched £2,059 per tonne, the highest since February 2020 – retreated to £1,968 per tonne on Friday, but remained up 4.4% for this month, with its gains somewhat curtailed by a recovery in sterling against the dollar.

‘No cocoa shipped’

The solid start to November prices has been spurred by a strike by dockworkers in San Pedro, one of the two main ports in Ivory Coast, which is by far the world’s biggest cocoa exporter.

Dockers are demanding that merchants hike their pay to 105 CFA francs per bag, from 30 CFA francs, and have reportedly rejected an offer of 50 CFA francs.

The industrial action is squeezing cocoa shipments from Ivory Coast, even as the country is amid its important main-crop harvest of the bean.

“No trucks could be unloaded nor any cocoa shipped for an entire week,” Commerzbank said, adding that the strike had undermined arrivals of beans in ports too.

As of the end of last week, 349,000 tonnes of cocoa had arrived from producers and traders to Ivory Coast’s two main ports for 2022-23, as started last month – a drop of 23% on last season’s pace.

‘Prices should shed their gains’

However, Commerzbank cautioned against expecting the cocoa price rally to last, given the likelihood of the strike proving temporary.

“As soon as the delays to shipments are resolved following the end of the strike, cocoa prices should shed their gains again,” the bank said.

Indeed, that would leave the market open to promising Ivory Coast production prospects.

“Cocoa farmers expect the pace of harvesting and shipments to increase from mid-November and yields to be better than last year,” the bank said.

‘Traders are worried’

At Price Futures, Jack Scoville said that “good production is reported”, flagging too the threat to from weakened economic prospects to chocolate consumption, which is dependent to a great extent on impulse purchases.

“Traders are worried about the world economy moving forward and how that could affect demand.”

However, output prospects remain in question in Ghana, the second-ranked grower, for which Rabobank last week cut buy 40,000 tonnes, to 760,000 tonnes, its 2022-23 production forecast.

Shortfalls in supplies of fertilizers and agrichemicals are “likely to stunt cocoa yields” the bank said, although even a 760,000-tonne harvest would represent an improvement on last season, for which the country reported its output at a 12-year low of 685,000 tonnes, shrunk by drought and an outbreak of swollen shoot disease.