Ghana: A Great Cacao Past, a Changing Present, and an Uncertain Future

Published On: June 20, 20243.7 min read

In recent months, Ghana has often been appearing in newspaper titles and news outlets. As the world’s second biggest cacao producer, whatever happens in Ghana has a real and substantial effect on the rest of the cacao world. The dramatic decrease in cacao production volumes from West Africa has resulted in the soaring cocoa prices and the cocoa market volatility we have observed in the past months.

Ghana: From Humble Beginnings to Global Cocoa Giant

Cocoa was reportedly introduced to Ghana in the late 1800’s when a Ghanaian farmer brought cocoa pods back with him from a trip to Equatorial Guinea. Since then Ghana started cultivating cocoa and has done so successfully up until today. For a long time now Ghana has been the second largest producer of cocoa in the world after Ivory Coast. Ghana produces about 14% of the world cocoa production. West-Africa produces 70% of all the cocoa in the world. Cocoa is a major cash crop for the country and of serious economic importance. Production is done by approximately 900.000 small-holder farmers.


Ghana: The Quality Standard in Mainstream Cocoa

Ghana cocoa beans are generally considered to be the best quality cocoa beans in the bulk cocoa segment for the cocoa and chocolate industry. Export quality is very consistent and parcels that are not up to standard will not be exported but used in the country’s many cocoa factories, as is the case with the smaller sized mid-crop beans. Cocoa trade is government business in Ghana with COCOBOD being a government body resorting under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

COCOBOD has several different companies responsible for various tasks:

– CMC or Cocoa Marketing Company in charge of selling the cocoa across the globe

– CQC or Cocoa Quality Company responsible for doing the selection of export quality

– CSC or Cocoa Shipping Company responsible for shipping the beans to the various buyers

Ghana cocoa farmers are organized in communities and districts and they bring their cocoa to local depots where the beans are weighed. Licensed Buying Companies (LBC’s) will buy the cocoa and arrange for transport to the sea ports of Tema or Takoradi or the land port in Kumasi. From there the beans will be shipped in containers or in bulk to the various buyers in the world.

In Ghana there are several cooperatives representing large groups of farmers that are working in a certified and sustainable fashion for a long time already. They now have a new challenge to make sure that the farms they represent will be EUDR-proof as well before the new 24-25 season will start. The Ghana government has also arranged for all the cocoa farms to be GPS-mapped in order to check for EUDR compliance.

The Changing Present

In recent years production of cocoa has in Ghana has suffered due to various reasons. The Russo-Ukrainian war that started February 2022 led to higher prices for fertilizers, coming for a big part from Russia, leading to less use of inputs and less cocoa production as a result. The El Nino weather phenomenon led to unseasonal rains and droughts causing a disturbance in the growth cycle of the cocoa pods. Swollen Shoot disease also caused damage to cocoa trees decreasing production output. LBC’s were badly financed at the beginning of the 2023-2024 season resulting in farmers sometimes selling to illegal buyers smuggling the beans out of Ghana. Also some farmers couldn’t resist leasing their land to miners. As a result a significant volume of cocoa beans could not be shipped out during the running season and shall be rolled onward to the next 24-25 season.

The new cocoa season in Ghana, formally starting traditionally on the 1st of October, shall turn out to be another very interesting one in view of the recent deficits in production, the very high cocoa terminal market prices combined with an incredible volatility as well as the impact of the EUDR activation as per the 31st of December 2024.

Would you like to know more about the cacao situation in Ghana?

In the 1990’s we became the first importers of Fairtrade certified cacao from Ghana in Europe. Since then, our ties with Ghana have always been present. Should you want to know more about the current cacao situation in the country, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Cocoa Team:




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