Reported changes in coca paste/hydrochloride refinement methods

Cocaine prices appear to have stabilised in the major consumer markets. Falling demand, competition from New Psychoactive Substances and shifts in consumer preference have been suggested by way of explanation. But according to UNODC sources in Peru a different factor may be at work. Changes in the refinement method mean that a far lower amount of coca leaf is required. Whereas in the past 370 kg of dry coca leaf were required to produce 1kg of cocaine hydrochloride, it now is about 240-260 kg. In addition, the cocaine cooks have learnt to better recycle their chemical precursor substances to achieve a more efficient conversion process in a shorter period.

These productivity gains may well outweigh other factors, like the reduction in the acreage of coca leaf production to provide for a greater supply of cocaine.