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Cocoa prices near record high

Cocoa's growers demonstrate in front of the European Union delegation headquarters in Abidjan.

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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The price of cocoa today is near a three-decade high. And that means chocolate's about to get more expensive. A possible civil war in Ivory Coast has its former leader fighting to hold on to power after losing an election last year. One tactic he's using is exerting more control of the nation's billion dollar cocoa industry.

The BBC's John James is with us from Abidjan with an update. Hi John.

JOHN JAMES: Hi there.

CHIOTAKIS: Ivory Coast today says it's going to buy these cocoa beans at a fixed price from farmers and then sell them on the world market. Is this the nationalization of cocoa?

JAMES: Yes, and this is a country where cocoa is by far and away the most important industry and in terms of well-production, this where more than a third of the world's cocoa comes from. Because of the politic crisis here, beans aren't being exported because of a boycott and because of sanctions on the ports as well. So yes, the government's trying to take control of production, only they'll have the right to buy beans at the farms and then exporting them themselves to try to get some of that revenue back.

CHIOTAKIS: Now John, cocoa prices are at a 30-year high. Does this mean it's going to be more expensive chocolate for the rest of us around the world?

JAMES: There's probably a good chance that will happen because say, cocoa prices are at a high, and that's because of the problems here in Ivory Coast. And the problems don't seem to be on the way to being resolved any time soon. So I'm sure chocolate manufacturers will have to pass on those high prices for what is the essential ingredient in chocolate onto the consumers.

CHIOTAKIS: The BBC's John James in Ivory Coast. John thanks.

JAMES: Thank you.

About the author

Steve Chiotakis was the host of Marketplace Morning Report until January 2012.

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