£658 million cocoa purchase sends global market skyrocketing
Thanks to Anthony Ward, cocoa-related consumption may now cost more. (Photo Credit: ThinkStock)

You’ve no doubt heard the idiom “Not for all the tea in China,” where tea is a vast staple of exchange or barter. Of course no one person possesses it all. However, in the case of British financier Anthony Ward, he may now possess all the cocoa in Europe. Ward purchased 241,000 tons of cocoa beans –enough to make 5.3 billion quarter-pound chocolate bars – with a mere £658 million outlay. That’s a $1 billion-plus USD cash outlay that will likely send cocoa prices skyrocketing.

The largest cocoa trade in 14 years

The Telegraph reports that Ward, 50, has forced cocoa manufacturers to raise prices with his massive purchase. A former motorcycle dispatch driver who became a commodities trader, Anthony Ward is currently worth £36 million ($55 million). He enlisted the resources of his hedge fund company Armajaro Holdings in order to complete the cocoa transaction. Not surprisingly, Ward was previously the chair of the European Cocoa Association. The Telegraph writes that that association has bought up 15 percent of the world’s cocoa stocks over the past decade.

What do you do with 241,000 tons of cocoa beans?

Storage warehouses in The Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom will be enlisted to store the massive cocoa purchase. Experts on the European cocoa industry have confirmed that the 241,000-ton-purchase is indeed as large as the cocoa stores of Europe combined. Previously in 2002, Ward purchased 204,000 tons of cocoa when West African governments and difficult growing conditions affected harvests in that region. Thanks to that purchase, Ward made a reported £40 million ($61 million) from the cocoa industry in two months. The most recent purchase will no doubt be even more lucrative.

Cocoa prices: Why your chocolate is more expensive

Thank Anthony Ward, in addition to any candy tax your city, state or municipality enforces for the price of chocolate. Ward’s recent trade sent cocoa prices up by 0.7 percent (trading at £2,732 or $4,176 per metric ton). According to the Telegraph, that’s the highest cocoa price increase in Europe since 1977. It had increased from £1,400 per ton to £1,600 after his 2002 purchase. Since demand for cocoa is still high, particularly in nations like India and China (it goes with all the tea, you see), chocolate makers are either raising their prices or using less cocoa in their recipes. Sadly, the result is chocolate that is either more expensive or somewhat less delicious.



Some background on cacao:

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