The ICCO Expert Working Group on Stocks (EWGS) traditionally meets each year to asses the actual stock levels in warehouses worldwide. They have been doing this since 2000, but this year due to reasons not provided, they have limited the assessment to Europe. The organisation has promised to reconvene later and report worldwide figures.

Questionnaires are sent out to warehouses and then the results compiled as at 21 January 2021. The numbers refer to stock levels as at 30 September 2020.

The figures are in tonnes, and the ICCO notes that they are a best-effort representation of the numbers as not all warehouses respond to the survey.

If correct, the stock levels decreased by about 1.5% compared with the previous season.

This second table of Cocoa stocks published by ICE Futures Europe helps give confidence and validate the survey. Their report is based on the stock levels of the terminal markets.

The figures show in fact an 8% drop in stocks held at the ICE nominated warehouses, from 169,510 tonnes to 156,730 tonnes.

The last column in the table shows the cocoa stocks from ICE as a percentage of overall stock levels – 20% this year.

The ICE nominated warehouse stock levels then, can be considered a representative sample which helps validate the findings of the EWGS’ wider report.

It was unclear whether the difference between the 8% drop reported by ICE Futures Europe and the 1.5% drop reported from the ICCO Europe survey is considered normal, or whether there is another explanation for the conflicting data. The ICCO explanation is unclear to us, but this is what they say:

Cocoa stocks published by ICE Futures Europe are generally lower than the volume of cocoa identified by the ICCO survey for two main reasons. Firstly, they represent only part of the cocoa stocks held by warehouse-keepers, as they are restricted to graded cocoa held in ICE Futures Europe nominated warehouses. On the contrary, the ICCO survey endeavours to seek information on all cocoa stocks held by the warehouses, and includes cocoa destined for the terminal market as well as cocoa stocks held by warehouse-keepers for traders, cocoa processors and chocolate manufacturers. The ICCO survey figure also compiles data from a wider geographical area and includes cocoa stored in port warehouses that are outside the ICE Futures Europe designated Delivery Area.

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