Not-So-Sweet News for Chocoholics

Cocoa prices have skyrocketed, so get ready to open that wallet a little wider
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 14, 2024 12:21 PM CST
Not-So-Sweet News for Chocoholics
This 2011 photo shows Hershey's chocolate in Overland Park, Kansas.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

It's the day for chocolate and roses, and at least one of those things is looking to set you back more this year. As NPR reports, the cost of cocoa, which is kind of a key ingredient in the aforementioned chocolate, has been skyrocketing—and basically doubled in the past year. That's leant itself to some pretty bitter recent news coming out of choco-world. A look around the landscape:

  • The cause: Basically, extreme weather in West Africa, where most of the world's cocoa supply is grown. It looks something like this: "There were massive rains, and then there was a massive dry spell coupled with wind," says an analyst. "It led to some pretty harsh growing conditions." Those conditions included pests and disease, and led to three consecutive years of poor crops.

  • The effect: Prices have steadily risen, hitting a new record of $5,874 a ton last week in New York. In London, they rose 7.3% last week to $5,853—more than double the figure from a year ago.
  • The effect, part II: US chocolate giant Hershey warned last week that profits and sales were in danger because of increased costs, reports the Guardian, and further price hikes could be in store. "Given where cocoa prices are, we will be using every tool in our toolbox, including pricing, as a way to manage our business," says CEO Michele Buck. Cadbury likewise has said it's increasing prices as a "last resort," though the Guardian cites one watchdog that noted a 50% increase on Cadbury products between Christmas 2022 and 2023.
  • When the worst pain might come: Because prices have already been building, Valentine's Day costs are relatively spike-free. But watch out for Easter and Halloween, per NPR.
(More cocoa stories.)

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