Apart from the usual options and futures, Euronext LIFFE is also happy to accommodate trading in commodities. It turns out a certain Anthony Ward (50) bought all the cocoa in Europe. Last Friday, his hedge fund Armajaro opted for physical delivery with the expiring July futures. For as little as EUR 800 million you can have all the cocoa stored in warehouses in Amsterdam and in several minor cities such as Antwerp, Felixstowe, Hamburg and Rotterdam. I’m no expert on cocoa beans, or to be specific how long you can preserve the quality of the beans, but Ward sure knows what he’s doing. The ex-Chairman of European Cocoa Association isn’t doing this for the first time in his life.
Press is reporting the “biggest cocoa trade in fourteen years”, but it’s not that special. Back 2002 the same cacao king Anthony Ward bought 202.000 tons, just a little less compared to the current 241.000. At the time his purchase represented 5% of the world market. He made 40 million in 2002 on the trade. Three years ago Ward was quoted as the chocolate guru : “The world’s not going to run out of cocoa, but they’ll have to pay more to get the right beans”. Most press reports refer to the biggest cocoa trade in fourteen years, but haven’t done any more research. The large cocoa trade in 1996 was done by the firm Phibro, amounting 300.000 tons. In charge of the cocoa desk at the time at Phibro, was nobody else than the same Anthony Ward. Phibro lost money on this cocoa trade by the way, and was forced to unwind their positions.
Bad luck for the cacao farmers, as they have already sold their stock and don’t benefit from the price raise. Fairtrade Organizations are eager to use the public tide against financial markets for their cause. There’s good news anyway for us consumers. There’s not much cocoa in the candy bars. The Tony’s Chocolonely slave-free chocolate bars will witness a steady price level.