UPDATE 1-Brazil cacao import to soar in 2016 due to drought -industry group
(Adds quotes from AIPC director, details on imports)
SAO PAULO Aug 17 (Reuters) - Drought has damaged Brazilian cacao farms and will force the domestic processing industry to import seven times the volume of chocolate's main ingredient in 2016 than it did last year, the AIPC industry association said on Wednesday.
Brazil will import 80,000 tonnes of the commodity in 2016, up from 11,000 tonnes in 2015, AIPC said, adding it was pushing the government to lift the ban on Ivory Coast cacao imports.
Eduardo Bastos, executive director of the AIPC, said tight supplies were increasing the industry's costs.
"For us (importing) is horrible because it's always better to secure supplies from the internal market," he said. "To import, we have to make purchases six months in advance."
The cacao industry in Brazil has already imported 50,000 tonnes of the commodity so far in 2016, Bastos said.
Brazil is expected to harvest 150,000 tonnes of cacao beans this 2016/2017 season, a drop of 30 percent from the season before, the AIPC said.
The drought over the cacao belt in Brazil's main producer state of Bahia was so severe that some farms had suffered losses in the number of trees, which Bastos said would have a long-term impact on Brazil's output potential given that it can take years for trees to become productive after planting.
"Future imports will depend (in coming years) on the next crops but we expect to reduce imports at least by half of this season next year," Bastos said. Continuación...