Itabuna is a regional center of commerce, industry and services, along with its neighbour Ilhéus. Its economic importance grew during the golden era of cocoa cultivation. Thanks to its fertile soil, the city became the second biggest producer of cocoa in Brazil, exporting to the United States and Europe. After the devastation of crops caused by the fungusCrinipellis perniciosa (which causes a disease known as witch's broom), which led to a profound crisis in its economy, the city began to search a diversification of its economical activities.
Nowadays, Itabuna is one of the most important trade points located along BR-101 Highway in Bahia.