Cost of shipping cocoa stayed for 2020/2021 season

Benonita Bismarck, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers Authority

The Cocoa Marketing Company (CMC), Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) and the 24 shipping lines operating in the country have resolved to stay freight charges for the 2020/2021 cocoa season.

This means the rate, calculated per tonne, for shipping the crop to the various locations across the world remains unchanged at £30 to the United Kingdom (UK); 49 to the Northern Continent; €56 to Estonia; €55 to Mediterranean Europe; US$89/94 to the Far East and US$103 to Brazil.

The bunker adjustment factor (BAF) was maintained at 27 percent for all destinations but for the UK which was reduced to 25 percent. The rates were reached after negotiations and extensive deliberation on the future of the sector and how best to support each other amidst the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on operations.

Some of the shipping lines in the stakeholders’ meeting dubbed Cocoa Freight Negotiation Conference held at the Ghana Shippers’ House in Accra to agree on prices were, Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Company, ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd, Grimaldi and COSCO Shipping Lines.

Address the conference before the negotiations the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers Authority, Benonita Bismarck, noted that the year under review saw bunker prices remained slightly low with freight rates stable.

“At the last freight meeting, we mentioned the coming into effect of the IMO Sulphur Cap on January 1, 2020 and noted that there was no certainty about how it was going to affect the global shipping industry.

Some participants of the conference

Its implementation, however, coincided with the COVID -19 pandemic and we can now say that bunker prices are slightly lower and freight rates have been quite stable. The outlook for the next 12 months is quite uncertain as nobody knows how much longer the COVID -19 situation is going to last.”

She added that “on the local front, we reported at the last meeting that a new Container Terminal (Terminal 3) had been opened at the Port of Tema, albeit with some initial challenges as it is with many such huge projects. We are glad to report that most of the initial hitches have been cleared and it is poised to make a positive impact on the shipping business in Ghana.”

2019/2020 Challenges

Some of the challenges faced during the 2019/20 cocoa season included the reopening of containers and change desiccants often due to delay in ETA (expected time of arrival) of vessels. Also, there were inadequate containers to stuff cocoa from some carriers, and some also delayed in releasing bills of lading.

It was also difficult to get confirmation of vessels’ sailing date and the exact containers that were loaded on board from some carriers for documentation purposes. The CMC noted that these challenges were coming from some of the Container Shipping Lines.

CMC Takoradi Shipments

Managing Director of the Cocoa Marketing Company (CMC), Vincent Okyere Akomeah, noted that even though a chunk of the nation’s cocoa comes from the Western Region many shipping lines are reluctant in docking their vessels at the Takoradi Port to cart the commodity. He revealed that the CMC is putting together some incentives to attract more vessels to cart cocoa from the Takoradi Port.

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