(Adds quotes about grindings, stocks)
By Ange Aboa
ABIDJAN, May 15 (Reuters) - A drop in Ghana’s cocoa production has not dented the International Cocoa Organization’s (ICCO) forecast for global output of 4.8 million tonnes for 2018/19, Executive Director Michel Arrion told Reuters on Wednesday.
Ghana previously forecast production of 900,000 tonnes, the same as the previous season, but has revised that down to about 850,000 tonnes because of swollen shoot disease and a lack of rain.
“We’re at the end of the first part of the season. We don’t have all the data, but we think that certain decreases in Ghana could be compensated by higher production elsewhere, such as Ivory Coast,” Arrion said in an interview at ICCO headquarters in Abidjan.
Output in Ivory Coast, the world’s top producer, is expected to reach 2.2 million tonnes this season.
Arrion said Ghana would continue to produce a bit less cocoa in the short term due to swollen shoot. Ghana’s government and marketing board Cocobod have launched a programme to dig up infected trees and replant the 400,000 hectares affected by the disease.
The ICCO is pleased with a sharp rise in global cocoa processing in the first quarter of 2019, driven by strong demand from the chocolate industry, Arrion said, forecasting that the trend would continue to the end of the cocoa season.
“This is very good because it’s an indicator of consumption,” he said. “We see the grindings keeping at high levels by using this year’s production but also existing stocks.”
In February, the ICCO forecast there would be a global cocoa surplus of 39,000 tonnes in the 2018/19 season.
“Stocks will continue to gradually decrease,” Arrion said.
Reporting by Ange Aboa Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Kirsten Donovan