UPDATE 1-Malaysia Q4 cocoa grindings down 9 pct -MCB

Wed Jan 15, 2014 2:54am EST

* Malaysia Q4 cocoa grind down 9 pct; full-year down 4.6 pct

* Malaysian grinders seen facing difficulties getting beans (Adds quote, details, European grind data)

SINGAPORE Jan 15 (Reuters) - Cocoa grindings in Malaysia fell 9 percent to 70,064 tonnes in the fourth quarter of 2013 from the corresponding 2012 period, the Malaysian Cocoa Board said on Wednesday, bucking an uptrend in Europe.

Total grindings in 2013 dropped 4.6 percent to 285,608 tonnes, the MCB said in a statement. The fall suggested grinders struggled last year to sell cocoa powder amid mounting inventory. The MCB gave no other details.

"I would say it's a surprise to see the decline. But some grinders are having difficulties importing beans because of a stringent pest control measure by the Malaysian customs," said a dealer in Singapore.

"Some beans have been stuck in the ports. Powder stocks are still high."

When ground, cocoa beans yield roughly equal parts butter, which gives chocolate its melt-in-the-mouth texture, and powder - used in cakes, biscuits and drinks.

Butter premiums rallied to multi-year highs in Asia, Europe and the United States last year as chocolate makers replenished stocks, and after grinders cut capacity due to the year's sluggish market and high powder inventory.

Germany's fourth-quarter 2013 cocoa grind rose 7.82 percent on the year to 101,029 tonnes. Europe's fourth-quarter cocoa grind rose 6.2 percent from the same period a year ago to 348,406 tonnes.

Chocolate sales normally surge in the main consuming regions of Europe and North America during the holiday period that takes in Christmas, Valentine's Day and Easter. (Reporting by Lewa Pardomuan; Editing by Tom Hogue)