Ivory Coast will increase the amount of cocoa it processes domestically to 49% of production starting from October with the addition of several new plants, the head of the sector regulator said on Friday.
Ivory Coast is the world's top cocoa producer with annual production of about 2.2 million tons. Currently about 35-40% is processed in country and the rest exported, but the government has a goal of increasing that to at least 50%.
The West African country has signed an agreement with the United Arab Emirates for the construction of a new plant in San Pedro with a grinding capacity of 120,000 tons, said Yves Brahima Kone, director general of the Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC), who was in Abu Dhabi this month to open a new CCC office.
"This permanent representation (in Abu Dhabi) is the fruit of our new vision for Ivorian cocoa that we want to export all over the world. This office will allow us to explore markets in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa," he told Reuters.
Ivory Coast also expects two new factories financed by China to enter into production in October, with a production capacity of 50,000 tons each, Kone said.
The new plants will allow the country to process more than 1 million tons of cocoa annually, making it the world's leading cocoa grinder, he said. Currently it vies with the Netherlands for top spot.
The state has implemented an aggressive policy in recent years to make local processing attractive, including offering tax cuts and other incentives to Ivorian companies.