The Top Cocoa Producing Countries in the World

February 22, 2024

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Cocoa rich chocolates on a market stall

Are you a fan of milk, dark, or white chocolate? Plain or filled with caramel or nuts? Although choosing your favorite off of the shelf seems simple, a lot of work has gone into getting your candy bar there.

Many countries around the world are experts in cocoa production. They grow a variety of cacao trees that produce the world’s cocoa. These plants love humid weather with lots of rainfall, so the world’s largest cocoa producers are largely based in hot countries, particularly in West Africa. Five to six million farmers grow cocoa in countries along the Earth’s equator.

Let’s take a look at the world’s top ten cocoa-producing countries!

1. Cote D’Ivoire – 2,230,000 tons

Aside from its stunning beaches, rainforests, and wildlife, this West African country is also the world’s leading cocoa producer. CΓ΄te d’Ivoire produced 2.23 million tons in the crop year 20222. In 2021, the country had cocoa production that was valued at over $3.2 billion.

Around half of Cote d’Ivoire’s population work in agriculture, including children. The country is just one of several cocoa-producing nations in West Africa that have come under fire for using child slave labor in their cocoa production.

Between 1960 and 2010, it’s estimated over 80% of forests in Cote d’Ivoire disappeared. The country’s massive cocoa production is a driving force for this dramatic deforestation. Many cocoa farmers illegally destroy trees and plant cocoa plants on the freed land. Not only have trees been damaged and destroyed, but this illegal practice is also threatening wildlife, particularly primates.

2. Ghana – 1,108,663 tons

Next on our list is Ghana, which produced over 1.1 million tons of cocoa. It’s estimated that 59% of Ghana’s population works in agriculture, of which 39% are women. Most of the country’s cocoa production is carried out by small-scale farmers, working land that averages 30,000 mΒ² (3 hectares).

When combined with the Ivory Coast, Ghana produces 50% of the world’s cocoa. In the 1960s, Ghana had been the world’s leading cocoa producer. However, bad weather, crop disease, and low production prices dramatically reduced the country’s cocoa production in the following decades. It wasn’t until the 1990s when the Ghana Cocoa Board, Cocobod, introduced new legislation. This included paying minimum producer prices to traders and privatizing cocoa marketing, which helped boost cocoa production in the country.

3. Indonesia – 667,296 tons

Coming in third place is Indonesia, which produced just under over 650,000 tons of cocoa.

Most of Indonesia’s cocoa plantations are found in North Sumatra, East Kalimantan, Papua, and West Java. However, the region of Sulawesi produces the most cocoa β€” it produces 75% of the country’s cocoa.

Unlike some of the other countries on this list, Indonesia often exports more raw beans than processed cocoa. Most of these beans are imported from the US, Malaysia, and Singapore.

4. Ecuador – 337,149 tons

Despite its current fourth-place position, Ecuador was once the world’s leading cocoa exporter. Now, it produces nearly 340,000 tons. In 2021, the country’s cocoa production was worth an estimated $444.54 million.

Ecuador is famous for its single-origin chocolate, a notoriously difficult product to make. This high-quality chocolate attracts foodie tourists from around the world who want to learn about the production process, from plant to wrapper.

The cacao tree likely originated in the Upper Amazon region, where the modern countries of Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia are. A ceramic pot dating back to 3,300 BC was found in Ecuador with evidence of cacao, which suggests cacao has been eaten in the country for over 5,000 years.

5. Cameroon – 300,000 tons

Cameroon produces 300,000 tons of cocoa in 2022, which makes it the fifth-largest producer in the world. The country, located in Central Africa, has a mixture of deserts in the north, mountains in the center, and rainforests in the south. The country’s tropical forests cover over 45% of its land and account for over 10% of forests in the Congo Basin. As cacao trees thrive in humid climates with high rainfall, this is the perfect location for cocoa production.

Cameroon mainly exports cocoa and cacao to the Netherlands, Turkey, and Belgium. Between 2020 and 2021, Cameroon exported $20.3 million worth of cocoa to the Netherlands, $7.08 million to Turkey and $6.31 million to Belgium.

6. Nigeria – 280,000 tons

Nigeria is the world’s sixth-largest producer of cocoa and also the world’s third largest cocoa exporter (after the Ivory Coast and Ghana). Nigeria has been producing cocoa since the 1870s, but the industry saw major fluctuations in the following century.

Up until the 1970s, cocoa was a major foreign exchange earner for the country. Nigeria was even the world’s biggest cocoa producer in 1970. However, upon major investments in the oil industry in the 1970s and 1980s, the country’s cocoa production and exports significantly dropped. Although production has increased in the last two decades, Nigeria still hasn’t regained its top cocoa-producing title.

In 2021, Nigeria’s cocoa production was worth an estimated $412.03 million, the seventh-largest cocoa production value in the world. This was less than Brazil, Ecuador, and Cameroon, as well as the three previously mentioned countries.

7. Brazil – 273,873 tons

Brazil produced over 270,000 tons of cocoa in 2022, a fraction of the 400,000 tons that the country produced around 40 years ago. The spread of fungal diseases and declining production costs mean what was once the second-largest producer of cocoa is now ranked in seventh place.

This country is perhaps most famous for its Amazon rainforest, the largest in the world. It’s spread over nine countries and covers 6.7 million kmΒ². The cacao tree flourishes in the humid rainforest, where a single tree can grow up to 20 meters tall.

Over 585,000 hectares of land was harvested for cocoa in 2020, worth approximately $645 million. The following year, Brazil produced $444.63 million worth of cocoa, the fourth-largest cocoa production in the world.

8. Peru – 171,177 tons

Over 25% of people in Peru are employed in the agriculture sector and over 100,000 families earn their living through the production of cocoa.

In 2020, Peru’s cocoa bean exports came to an estimated $131 million. During the same year, Peru made an estimated $279 million from total cocoa production and exports. Four years previously, Peru made a record high of $183.92 million from cocoa bean exports alone.

Many people consider Peruvian cocoa some of the highest quality in the world. Over 25% of cacao produced in the country is certified as organic, fairtrade, or sustainable. You’ve also got your pick of flavors as three different types of cacao are grown in Peru: Trinitary, Amazon foreign, and Creole.

9. Dominican Republic – 75,900 tons

The Dominican Republic produces over 75,000 tons by over 40,000 producers. Approximately 1,500 kmΒ² of land on the Caribbean island has been covered with cocoa plants.

The Dominican Republic is renowned for growing high quality cocoa, which is reflected by the fact that that most of its exports go to Europe.

Unlike most other countries on this list, the Dominican Republic’s cocoa industry doesn’t rely on forced child labor. Farms and producers are faced with losing their legal certifications if they are discovered to be using illegal child labor.

10. Colombia – 62,158 tons

The South American country was the tenth-largest producer of cocoa in 2022.

Cocoa production in Colombia plays a significant role in the country’s agricultural sector and economy. Colombia is renowned for producing high-quality cocoa beans, primarily cultivated in regions with favorable climates such as Santander, Huila, and Norte de Santander

Colombian cocoa is highly sought after by chocolate makers and connoisseurs worldwide due to its distinct flavor profile, often characterized by fruity, floral, and nutty notes.

Cocoa Production by Country

CountryProduction 2022 (tons)Production 2021 (tons)
CΓ΄te d'Ivoire2,230,0002,228,459
Dominican Republic75,90070,631
Papua New Guinea42,00041,900
Democratic Republic of the Congo20,00020,000
Sierra Leone18,00015,000
United Republic of Tanzania14,00014,000
Solomon Islands4,0005,000
Sao Tome and Principe3,0003,000
Viet Nam1,5002,000
Sri Lanka1,2211,349
Equatorial Guinea1,000600
Costa Rica800800
El Salvador400390
Trinidad and Tobago300300
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines228230
Central African Republic134136
Saint Lucia2933
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