Olam's Ivorian cocoa plant to hit full output in 2 months

DAKAR Mon Apr 7, 2014 12:23pm EDT

DAKAR (Reuters) - Olam International Ltd (OLAM.SI) has started its long-promised 70,000 metric ton (77162 ton) cocoa processing plant in Ivory Coast and plans to reach full capacity within two months, its head of Africa said at the Reuters Africa Summit on Monday.

Ivory Coast is the world's top cocoa grower and leading grinder with a processing capacity of around 500,000 tons, equivalent to around a third of its crop. Reforms aim to boost local processing to about half of its production.

"There is no reason it should not achieve full capacity soon after commercial commissioning. It will be within the next couple of months," said Venkatramani Srivathsan, Olam's managing director for Africa and the Middle East of the plant.

The Singapore commodities firm had previously said in its 2013 annual report that commercial operations would begin "early in 2014".

The plant, located at the port of San Pedro, has a capacity of 70,000 tons and will process cocoa beans into products like cocoa butter, cocoa cake and cocoa liquor.

Olam is present in 25 African countries and has invested 1.66 billion Singapore dollars ($1.32 billion) in the continent, including palm and rubber plantations in Gabon and a wheat mill in Ghana.

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($1 = 1.2599 Singapore Dollars)

(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Mark Potter)