Cocoa pods

Côte d'Ivoire cocoa exports and deforestation

Trase maps the international trade in cocoa from Côte d’Ivoire revealing which trading companies and consumer markets are most exposed to deforestation.

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8 May 2024

Valentin Guye

Photo credit: World Agroforestry

Côte d’Ivoire is the largest producer and exporter of cocoa globally. It produced between 2.10 and 2.15 million tonnes of cocoa beans annually from 2019 to 2022, with a peak at 2.25 million tonnes in 2021 (ICCO). Around 70% of the production is exported every year as raw beans, 12% as cocoa paste and 7% as cocoa butter. The value of cocoa exports peaked at $5.06 billion in 2021, before falling to $4.47 billion in 2022, the lowest in 2019–2022.

From 2003 to 2017, Trase calculates that 1.65 million hectares of tropical moist forest were converted to cocoa plantations in Côte d’Ivoire, accounting for 45% of total tropical moist forest loss in the country. This is an annual deforestation rate of 110,000 hectares – an area almost the size of New York City. The cocoa deforestation intensity of Ivorian production has increased from 680 hectares per thousand tonnes of beans (ha/kt) in 2019, to 730 ha/kt in 2021, with a peak at 770 ha/kt in 2020.

Trase links commodities produced on recently deforested land to exporting companies and markets, taking into account the time lags between deforestation, harvest and export. For cocoa, Trase uses a 15-year window to attribute deforestation to cocoa production. Cocoa deforestation linked to exports in 2021 is therefore calculated based on the area of cocoa expansion into forests from 2003 to 2017.

Regional hotspots of risk

Trase shows the levels of deforestation linked to the expansion of cocoa production in each department of Côte d’Ivoire in 2021. Half of all cocoa-related deforestation is concentrated in 9 of the more than 60 departments that produce cocoa in the country. Of these, Sassandra, San-Pedro, Guiglo, Tabou and Lakota have the highest cocoa deforestation. Sipilou, Biankouma, Man, Danane and Guiglo are the five departments where cocoa has the highest deforestation intensity per tonne of production – above 1,200 ha/kt.

Deforestation exposure of traders and markets

In 2021, the six largest traders exported more than 75% of all cocoa deforestation in Côte d’Ivoire. The European Union (EU) together with Switzerland imported 1.1 million tonnes of cocoa products in 2021 (measured as the equivalent of raw beans) which were associated with 800,000 hectares of tropical deforestation. Many of these cocoa products are imported into the EU via the Netherlands. The United States and Malaysia imported over 300,000 and 190,000 tonnes of cocoa products respectively in 2021 and were exposed to 224,000 and 141,000 hectares of cocoa deforestation.

Deforestation exposure also varies across traders and markets according to the intensity of cocoa deforestation relative to production in the departments they source from. The per-tonne deforestation exposure of exports varies across traders, from more than 750 ha/kt for Touton and Olam, to less than 650 ha/kt for Ecom and Cocoasource in 2021. For countries, there is less variability in per-tonne deforestation intensity as they import from a mix of different traders and departments.

An important feature of the cocoa supply chain in Côte d’Ivoire is the extent of indirect sourcing of cocoa via intermediary suppliers in contrast to direct sourcing from producer cooperatives. Trase shows that no more than 40% of Ivorian cocoa is directly sourced, making it difficult to know where the remaining supply originates from and quantify its deforestation exposure. Companies importing cocoa into the EU will need to demonstrate that these supplies are deforestation-free in order to comply with the EU deforestation regulation.

Zero-deforestation commitments

In 2020, seven companies trading cocoa from Côte d’Ivoire had made publicly disclosed zero-deforestation commitments (ZDCs), together accounting for 80% of exported volumes. By 2022, three more companies had made ZDCs. However, the proportion of exports handled by traders with ZDCs fell to 77.5% by 2022.

Explore the latest supply chain data here.

Guye, V. (2024). Côte d'Ivoire cocoa exports and deforestation. Trase.

Trase. (2024). SEI-PCS Côte d'Ivoire cocoa v1.1 supply chain map: Data sources and methods. Trase.

Guye, V., Gollnow, F., Biddle, H., Ribeiro, V., Meyfroidt, P., Renier, C., & zu Ermgassen, E. K. H. J. (2024). Côte d’Ivoire cocoa supply chain v.1.1 (2020-2022) (Version 1.1) [Data set]. Trase.

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