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Top 5 Cocoa Beans Producing Countries in the World

10 Oct 2018 • by Natalie Aster

LONDON – Today, cocoa is among the most cultivated plant species around the world, besides, it is an important ingredient for countless food products. Historically, Theobroma cacao (nowadays called the cocoa tree) is native to the earliest cultures of South America: first, cocoa trees grew in the Amazon and upper Orinoco basins and, eventually, local people developed special cocoa cultivation techniques. Nowadays, cocoa beans are grown in tropical zones close to the Equator, as climate conditions in these regions are the most appropriate for growing cocoa trees.

The appetite for cocoa beans has considerably increased all over the globe, primarily owing to the robust upturn of the chocolate industry, which is the major end-use sector of cocoa beans. About 90% of the total volume of cocoa beans produced across the globe are used as raw material for the production of chocolate. This factor also acts as the major growth engine of the worldwide cocoa beans market. Other favourable factors stimulating an upswing in the cocoa beans market comprise rising disposable incomes of the middle-class population around the globe, and mounting popularity of different cocoa-based products (e.g. confectionary, powders, beverages, etc.). However, the cocoa beans market faces a number of challenges, for instance, fluctuating commodity prices, low productivity, pest and different diseases, high costs associated with farm inputs, and strong dependence on environmental conditions.


The world over, the production of cocoa beans reached almost 3.97 million tons in the 2015/16 crop year after a continued drop since 2013/14. In 2016/17, the world’s cocoa beans production registered a remarkable increase of around 0,78 million tons, and the overall output volume exceeded 4.7 million tons. However, in the crop season 2017/18, the volume of the global cocoa beans production demonstrated a modest decline and totaled some 4.74 million tons.

World’s cocoa beans production over 2008/09 – 2017/18 (in million tons)
World’s cocoa beans production over 2008/09 – 2017/18 (in million tons)

Amid regions, Africa grabs the major chunk of the global cocoa beans output, accounting for slightly over 75% of the world’s overall supply volume. In the 2016/17 crop season, the African region reported the cocoa beans production volume of around 3.5 million tons. Meantime, the Americas together capture a share of nearly 16% of the global cocoa beans output, and Asia-Pacific holds the remaining share.

Structure of world’s cocoa beans production broken down by region, in 2016/17

Structure of world’s cocoa beans production broken down by region, in 2016/17

Approximately 70% of the world’s total output of cocoa beans are contributed by four West African countries (Côte d’Ivoire (a.k.a. Ivory Coast), Ghana, Cameroon, and Nigeria). Moreover, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are by far the 2 biggest cocoa producing countries on the global scale, together accounting for over 50% of the world’s cocoa output. The third position on the list of the world’s leading cocoa producers is held by Indonesia, which is followed by Ecuador.

Top 5 cocoa beans producing countries during 2012/13-2017/18 (in million tons)

Top 5 cocoa beans producing countries during 2012/13-2017/18 (in million tons)


Côte d’Ivoire tops the list of the world’s leading suppliers of cocoa beans by an impressive margin, accounting for almost 44% of the world’s total output. The country is the key supplier of cocoa beans to such companies as Nestle and Cadburys.

In the crop season 2016/17, Côte d’Ivoire produced some 2.02 million tons of cocoa beans, whilst, in 2017/18, the country’s output declined to the volume of 2 million tons.

The cocoa industry contributes around two-thirds of the total trade revenue of Côte d’Ivoire, however, it is under the fire owing to a dependence on harsh working conditions, absence of education, and child labor.

Côte d’Ivoire is also the dominant exporter of cocoa beans on the worldwide arena. The key export destinations for cocoa beans harvested in Côte d’Ivoire are the US, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Italy, Belgium, and Germany.


Ghana ranks the second largest producer of cocoa beans from pole to pole. Ghana initiated cocoa production in the mid-19th century and today is responsible for appr. 19% of the world’s production volume.

The country’s output of cocoa beans has demonstrated an impressive increase during the recent decade. In the crop season 2016/17, Ghana’s cocoa beans production amounted to 970,000 tons. However, it declined in 2017/18 and totaled about 880,000 tons.

Cocoa is an important crop for Ghana, it contributes over 30% of the country’s exports earnings and accounts for almost 16% of the country’s GDP. More than 1.6 million people in Ghana are involved both directly and indirectly in the cocoa industry.


Despite entering the cocoa industry only in the early 1980’s, today Indonesia is on the third place in the world in terms of cocoa beans production. It boasts about 1.5 million hectares of cocoa trees plantations. The major regions of cocoa production in Indonesia include Sulawesi (accounting for nearly 75% of the country’s output of cocoa), North Sumatra, Papua, West Java, and East Kalimantan.

Though the production of cocoa beans in Indonesia has grown over the years, the chocolate producing efforts have been thwarted by disease-prone trees. Many of the Indonesian farms have been damaged by the ‘pod bearer insect’, which resulted in a poor quality of the cocoa crop. Many of the cocoa beans harvested in the country have to be blended with imported beans in order to create cocoa powder: this is owing to the farmers’ need to get cash for their crops, instead of waiting for their low-quality beans to ferment properly.

During the crop seasons 2012/13 – 2017/18, Indonesia’s output volume of cocoa beans exhibited a steady decline and in 2017/18 totaled about 260,000 tons.


According to archaeological studies, Ecuador could be one of the first cocoa producers in the world, as cocoa beans were produced in the country nearly 5,000 years ago. The quality of the Ecuadorian cocoa beans is considered by many top experts to be the best worldwide, local farmers brand their cocoa beans as “Black Gold”. Furthermore, the rich chocolate paste made from beans is one of Ecuador’s key claims to fame.

Until the 20th century, the country was at the forefront of the world’s cocoa beans production. Although Ecuador has been outpaced by other countries, it still remains one of the world’s dominant cocoa beans producers, taking the fourth place.

Ecuador’s production of cocoa beans reached 270,000 tons in the 2016/17 crop season, registering a steady, modest increase during the several previous seasons. However, it declined in 2017/18 and totaled about 260,000 tons.


Cameroon is the fifth biggest producer of cocoa beans around the world. Cocoa accounts for around 50% of the country’s basic products exports.

During the recent years, great strides have been made in Cameron to boost the cocoa farming to become more sustainable. In 2016/17, Cameroon’s production of cocoa beans climbed to 246,000 tons, however, it decreased to 240,000 tons in 2017/18.

Although the country’s government presented rather optimistic plans to boost the domestic output of cocoa beans to reach 600,000 tons by the year 2020, extreme weather conditions are taking a toll on Cameroon’s potential to reach its goal.

© MarketPublishers.com, 2018

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