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(Includes market estimates, comments from broker, context)
By Marcelo Teixeira
NEW YORK, July 21 (Reuters) - North American cocoa grindings fell more than expected in the second quarter to 115,899 tonnes, down 6.29% from the same period a year earlier, according to data from the National Confectioners Association (NCA) released on Thursday.
Cocoa grind data is a key demand indicator for the market of the chocolate-making commodity. The market expectation for cocoa processing in the period was for a 2% drop on average compared to the previous year.
One U.S.-based cocoa broker, who expected a fall of 4% in processing, said that there was one less plant reporting data for the second quarter's NCA survey compared with last year, which would partly explain the smaller grind.
There were 15 plants located in the United States, Canada and Mexico reporting data for the survey, including the world's largest chocolate maker Barry Callebaut and U.S. chocolate heavyweights The Hershey Company and Mars Wrigley Confectionery.
Chocolate consumption suffered during the pandemic, despite higher home use, due to a lack of social events such as conferences and parties.
And now, consumers are seen cutting back on chocolate due to the cost of living, according to companies' executives.
Europe's second-quarter cocoa grind rose slightly to 364,081 tonnes, up 2%.
(Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by Mark Porter and Richard Pullin)