Cocoa proves sweeter than sugar for investors
Commodity players in the exchange traded products market are proving chocaholics. For 10 consecutive weeks, the investors in exchange traded products, or ETPs, have raised their exposure to cocoa.
That has lifted assets investment in cocoa ETPs to $83m, up from some $27m, according to data from ETF Securities, which claims a 99% share of trading in the exchange traded products in ags in Europe.
That has made the market more valuable than that in corn, one of the biggest markets for futures investors, as well as those in cotton, soybeans and sugar – if lagging the $150m invested in wheat EPTs.
"We see this a lot, funnily enough. Our investors do tend to take a particularly close interest in cocoa. That and oil," says James Butterfill, head of research & investment strategy at ETF.
As to why cocoa is attracting such attention, that could be down in part to the large number of retail investors that invest through ETPs, which allow investors to gain exposure to financial markets with relatively little outlay.
While cocoa is the stuff of luxury and leisure, "It is harder to get a romantic attachment" to the likes of corn, Mr Butterfill tells Agrimoney.com.
Cocoa might have been picked up too by an Italian ETP-investing set which is "big in coffee", a commodity which also punches above its weight in the exchange traded products market, with assets under management of $84m, according to ETF Securities.
Italians "have very much a trading mentality when it comes to ETPs", Mr Butterfill says.
While coffee is a fitting fixation for a country which has given us the likes of Illy and Lavazza, "it may be they have got into cocoa too," with which coffee has some association and commercial crossover.
The trouble for the ETP cocoa-philes is that they would not appear to be making money, at the moment.
The great bulk of them have invested in cocoa on the long side – which has attracted all but $100,000 of the $29.5m flowing into ETPs in the bean over the past month.
"That looks a very bullish sign."
Yet prices of exchange traded cocoa products have struggled, as they have on futures markets, dropping by 7.8% over the past month, and by 39% year on year.
"Cocoa has really been savaged over the last year. Some people see a market that has been savaged in this way as a buying opportunity," Mr Butterfill says.
"If anyone was looking for deep value, they may buy cocoa."
Besides, with so much of world production reliant on two countries, Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana, that does raise the potential for price volatility, he added.
Might a 1.4% rise in cocoa ETP prices in the latest week be the start of something more lucrative for long investors?