Chocolate maker Barry Callebaut cancels Ivorian meeting on Ebola fears

ABIDJAN - Barry Callebaut, the world's biggest chocolate maker, confirmed on Monday it has cancelled an annual meeting of managers that was due to take place in Ivory Coast because of concern over the spread of the Ebola virus.

The worst Ebola epidemic in history has so far killed close to 1,000 people in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

No suspected cases have yet been reported in neighbouring Ivory Coast - the region's economic powerhouse and the world's top cocoa grower.

The company has invested in cocoa grinding capacity in the country as well as infrastructure at the San Pedro cocoa port. "We have cancelled the meeting because of the problem with Ebola as certain people were not comfortable coming to work in the region because of that," said a senior company source who asked not to be named.

The meeting was due to take place in October and is the first time the Swiss-based firm had organised its global meeting in an African location.

Barry Callebaut spokesman Raphael Wermuth said the annual manager's conference, to be attended by 150-200 executives, would be moved because of the uncertainty over Ebola to Davos in Switzerland.

Wermuth added business was otherwise continuing as usual in the region.