Cocoa is a commodity traded on stock markets around the world, with supply and demand dynamics the main reasons for commodity price fluctuation.
A growing demand for the product has come as a result of the increasing affluence of many areas of the globe, most notably in India and China, where rising living standards have resulted in the increased consumption of chocolate, with cocoa beans being the main ingredient in its manufacture.
This was highlighted by a 20 per cent increase in demand for the commodity between 2002 and 2007, as global consumption of chocolate rose significantly.
Chocolate is made using both cocoa solids and cocoa butter, with the addition of oils and fats used in some recipes, depending upon the type of chocolate being produced.
It comes in many varieties, ranging from dark chocolate, to milk, to white. As a result, the confectionery industry is one of the main buyers of cocoa, with around three million metric tonnes of the product being produced and consumed annually around the world.
Major global production of cocoa is focused in eight countries - Ecuador, Ghana, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Brazil, Cameroon and the most prolific producer, the Ivory Coast, with this final country making up 46 per cent of annual yields.
As previously mentioned, supply is one of the main factors in setting cocoa pricing structure among investors, with the main issues to affect annual production including weather, national conflict - such as the civil war seen in the Ivory Coast in 2002 - and disease.
Seasonal changes are also seen in the sector, with winter a time when the consumption of chocolate traditionally increases in many parts of the world, meaning the value of the commodity also rises.
Cocoa is the world's smallest soft market commodity, with trading taking place predominantly on the InterContinental Exchange and New York Stock Exchange Euronext indices.