Chocolate price and the election in Ivory Coast

The connection between chocolate and Ivory Coast

After enjoying the traditional Valentine’s Day chocolate candy you probably have realized that prices have been rising a little bit in the last few months.

Check out this graph. You can easily see that after some months of decline the price went up again in October, and it is keeping up since then. Cocoa prices rose 12 percent in January alone. Why? Because of the presidential election in the Ivory Coast. But, what does the Ivory Coast have to do with the price of chocolate?

Ivory Coast is the world’s biggest producer of cocoa, the key ingredient for chocolate. And a several months dispute on who was the winner in the last presidential election has been affecting cocoa production.

Last October 31th took place the first round of presidential election. Mr Lauent Gbagbo (the last President) came first with 38%, not enough to win outright. Former premier Alassane Ouattara was second with 32%. In November there was the run-off ballot between Gbagbo and Ouattara. On December 2nd the election commission said Ouattara won with 54.1% of the vote compared with 45.9% for Gbagbo. The next day, the Constitutional Council, run by a Gbagbo ally, rejected the results as rigged. Gbagbo was declared winner. That was the beginning of a clash between both candidates supporters.

Risk of civil war

Ivory Coast has been in turmoil since the November 28th polls which Gbagbo claimed he won, despite U.N. certified results showing he lost to Ouattara. The standoff threatens to rekindle a civil war in the country.

Pro-Gbagbo and pro-Ouattara forces waged gun battles in Abidjan, and exchanged fire in central town of Tiebissou. At least 20 people were killed as security forces clash with anti-Gbagbo protesters. The result of all this was that Gbagbo is still claiming the power. The political turbulences led to a one-month ban on exports that was announced in late January provoking the sharp rise of the cocoa prices. What will happen next? If chocolate prices keep going up it will mean that probably the situation in Ivory Coast is still unstable.

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