Cocoa Story: The Western Europe Cocoa Market

In the 2014/15 cocoa season, the Western Europe Cocoa industry ground over a million tons of cocoa beans, close to a third of the world cocoa production, with the Netherlands alone accounting for 508.000 tons, which makes it the second most important processor of cocoa beans in the world after Côte d'Ivoire. Downstream, the Dutch cocoa trade and cocoa-processing industries together handle one million tons of Cocoa products. Other major European players in the cocoa trade and processing are Germany, the United Kingdom and France .

Cocoa mass

Some chocolate factories still grind cocoa beans themselves. Others buy cocoa mass from the cocoa press industries. But in all cases the factories purchase the extra cocoa butter needed to make chocolate. By far the greatest part of the cocoa mass is processed into cocoa butter and cocoa powder.

Cocoa butter

World-wide the annual trade of cocoa butter exceeds 800,000 tons.

In Europe, the most important exporters are the Netherlands and France; the top buyers are Germany, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom.

Cocoa powder

The Netherlands is the world's market leader for cocoa powder with an export share of about 25%. Major outlets are the United States, Germany, Russia, France, Belgium and Spain.


In most European countries and the United States chocolate is legally protected as a product. The minimum percentage of solid cocoa ingredients is determined by law.

European Directive 2000/36/EC only allows the addition of up to 5% of vegetable fats other than cocoa butter in the weight of the end product. Should this percentage be above 5%, the product may not be called chocolate.

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Cocoa Terminology

Cocoa powder

The finely ground particles obtained from the mechanical disintegration of cocoa press cake.

Expeller cocoa press cake

Cocoa beans or cocoa dust or both with or without cocoa nib, cocoa mass, cocoa press cake, fat-reduced cocoa press cake or any combination of two or more thereof which has been converted by the expeller process to a solid compressed mass.

Cocoa press cake

Cocoa nib or cocoa mass converted by pressure by a mechanical process to a solid compressed mass.

Cocoa mass (also called Cocoa liquor)

Cocoa nib, mechanically processed to a paste, which retains the natural fat content of cocoa nib.

Cocoa nib

The cotyledon of roasted or unroasted cocoa beans containing a residue of shell or germ not exceeding 5 per cent calculated on the dry defatted matter and an ash content not exceeding 10 per cent calculated on the dry defatted matter.


"Sound" when applicable to cocoa products shall mean full and undamaged cartons and/or packages.