Mid-Year Supply Chain Updates
June is here, so that means we are already well into the peak purchasing season for cacao, and in some countries the harvest has already wrapped up. This year has thrown us more curveballs than expected, while at the same time, bringing about a more unsure environment for chocolate and cacao sales. In light of having so many things up in the air, we wanted to bring you into the fold to get as much aligned as possible for the busy time of year ahead of us.
We are sold out of the organic ABOCFA Ghana 2022/2023 harvest. This happened much earlier than we expected this year. We already imported all the cacao from West Africa that we need for the year and contracting for the ‘23/24 harvest will start in Q4. This is our “classically chocolate” flavored cacao which we know many of you rely on. We had quality challenges with the ‘22/23 ABOCA harvest this year, due to excess rainfall during the export season. The organic warehouse overflowed prior to export which left our cacao exposed to rain after it had been bagged for export. There was no option to remedy this cacao other than finding a market willing to work with a lower quality bean from Ghana.
In East Africa, it is a different story. We have already submitted our purchase plans and are currently approving samples. We are hearing that there is a strong harvest this year. Latitude Trade Co. has also expanded their farmer network to work with additional regions. From the samples we evaluated, we noticed a deep chocolatey flavor and we are expecting lower cadmium content. This cacao is some of the best to date and are very excited to get you these beans. Going back to our earlier point about low visibility this year means that we aren’t keeping tons of extra volume around. This means that if you need it, you need to let us know. This container is shipping in a few weeks and we are very excited for the incoming quality with this harvest.
Maya Mountain, Belize
A severe drought and higher than average temperatures, as predicted by NOAA, has drastically affected cacao production. We are hearing the most dramatic negative effects on the harvest this year which has reduced production by about 50%. Maya Mountain Cacao in southern Belize was initially projecting to produce over 100 MT this year, but they have now cut their plans by 40 MT. This is a severe impact; we can only import the cacao that is harvested. The good news is that all of the cacao that is being collected at Maya Mountain is A1 quality, which is the top quality that Uncommon imports for the US and EU markets. However, the reality is that inventory will only be available for a very short window as the few containers we can get for this year arrive. It remains unclear if there will be a bumper crop this year. This is another bean where if you need this cacao, please let us know as soon as possible.
Alta Verapaz, Guatemala
In Guatemala, we are hearing similar news. They are dealing with high temperatures and a drought have cut volumes for Cacao Verapaz. Reach out to our sales team to discuss the impacts on your buying plans.
The Dominican Republic and Haiti supply updates
Haiti and the Dominican Republic are also experiencing the effects of above average heat and below average rains In the DR, Öko Caribe reported a 50% drop in production this year. PISA is experiencing the same in Haiti. Pre-shipment samples that we received from PISA had a higher bean per 100g count (smaller bean size) because of the drought. The good news is that the flavor has not been impacted. The PISA pre-ship sample was one of our highest scoring PISA lots ever! Since both Öko Caribe and PISA are hand sorted, the smaller bean count takes longer for our partners to select the very best beans. We were planning for this year’s PISA container to ship in May, but it has been delayed and is shipping this week. Öko Caribe can produce what we need for this year, with advance planning. We imported a hand-sorted container early in the harvest, and another container for butter and powder processing recently. Those are available for you right now! PISA will land in early August.
In Colombia, our partners source from multiple associations in Tumaco, but this year we made the decision to source solely from one association, ASPROCAT. This will improve our traceability and quality control. We are very excited to release this single association lot of Tumaco to the market this year when the cacao lands. It arrived this week and will be available for sampling by mid July.
In Peru, we have been focusing on high quality Chuncho cacao from Quilabamba. After trying a few samples, we arrived on a perfect match to the flavor we hoped for. This container of Peruvian Chuncho will be shipping soon.
For Ecuador, we have the 2022 CECAO and regenerative EcoCacao lots in stock.
Wrapping up - Plan plan plan!
What does this mean for you as a chocolate maker? It is even more important to plan your purchases for the rest of the year with us since we expect cacao to be in short supply this year. An advantage for planning is that it helps us set the price for you rather than being subject to the monthly spot price, and this is especially true this year for cacao from Central America and the Caribbean.
We are in the position to contract for all the volume possible from these partners experiencing low supply when they are also our main offerings. Maya Mountain, Cacao Verapaz, PISA and Oko are continuing to buy from farmers through this difficult time. It is important to remember that this is a specialty agricultural crop that is dependent on climate. We will make commitments to our partners to the extent that we have your commitment.
Please reach out as soon as possible to discuss your plans with our team!