Mystery Investor Buys Every Cocoa Bean in Europe

Who's hoarding all that cocoa, and why?
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2010 3:46 AM CDT
Updated Jul 19, 2010 5:30 AM CDT
Farmers dry cacao beans in Peru. Weak harvests have raised the price of cocoa worldwide, and the mystery investor has now pushed it even higher.   (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

(Newser) – The supply of cocoa beans sitting in warehouses across Europe could fill more than 5 Titanics, and as of last week it all belongs to one mysterious figure. An anonymous investor sparked intrigue last week when he, she, or they bought 241,000 tons of cocoa—essentially, every cocoa bean in Europe. The massive deal rocked the global cocoa market, sending the bean to its highest price since 1977, the Telegraph reports.

Analysts said the buy doesn't look like the work of a chocolate company. More likely, a group of investors is cornering the market to force the price of cocoa higher. After a series of bad harvests and recent flooding in West African nations where the crop is grown—plus growing demand for chocolate from China and India—prices were already high. But cornering the market doesn't explain one curious detail of the deal: The investor took delivery of the actual beans rather than just buying futures, as is typical in commodity trades.

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