Cocoa bean prices set to soar as global supply issues worsen for chocolate makers Cadbury and Hershey

Chocolate lovers could be facing a possible nightmare ahead of Easter as experts warn cocoa supply issues could drive record prices and reduced quality of the delicious treat.

Cocoa prices are tipped to soar to record highs in 2024, with consumers told to brace for a rise in chocolate prices throughout the year.

It’s forecast the price of cocoa could more than double within months.

Saxo Head of Commodity Strategy Ole Sloth Hansen explained a series of issues to the global supply chain could have costly effects for consumers.

Cocoa’s record-breaking and parabolic rise continues amid an acute lack of cocoa beans from West Africa,” Mr Hansen said.

“NY cocoa is trading up 200 per cent year-on-year, while the London-based cocoa future has rallied even stronger, with the May 2024 futures contract up 105 per cent year to date.

“While the poor harvest in West Africa remains the focus, fears have also risen in Europe that incoming European Union regulations – which are aimed at preventing the retailing of products that destroy forests – will make it even harder for top European chocolate makers to secure supplies.”

Mr Hansen said heavy rains in West Africa – where most of the world’s cocoa bean is grown – have caused headaches for the industry in the last six months.

“The Ivory Coast and Ghana are recognised as the leading global producers of cocoa beans,” he said.

“The past year has introduced challenging weather conditions in these countries, particularly intense heat, which has negatively impacted cocoa production.

“Furthermore, the escalating costs of pesticides and fertilisers have imposed financial strains on farmers, making it harder for them to procure these vital components for crop maintenance.

“Complicating matters are the pests that have targeted cocoa plants, further diminishing yields.”

Two global confectionery companies, Hershey and Cadbury, have in recent months noted that price hikes for consumers are possible as the cocoa-supply shortages continue.

Mr Hansen said Easter 2024 could be the last time consumers see chocolate price at a reasonable cost per product before

The size of a product is reduced without dropping the price – commonly known as shrinkflation.

Mr Hansen also warned the ongoing supply issues could also cause a decline in chocolate quality, as chocolate makers find it harder to secure cocoa supplies.

“Typically, it can take anywhere from six to 12 months for such price hikes to be reflected in the retail pricing of products,” Mr Hansen said.

“Nevertheless, in the forthcoming period, consumers should brace for an uptick in chocolate bar prices.”

“Additionally, the trend of shrinkflation is likely to become more pronounced.

“Consequently, while there might not be a stark rise in the price tags of chocolate items, the quantity offered for the same price will see a reduction.”

In February, the International Cocoa Organization released its first quarterly predictions for the year, forecasting “significant declines in (cocoa) production” due to “unfavourable weather conditions”, plant diseases and “old trees”.

“The low availability of cocoa beans has led to significant increases in cocoa prices,” the report stated.

“With costs of raw materials increasing, this is likely to affect the operations of processors.

“Compared to the 2022/23 season, global cocoa supply is anticipated to decline by almost 11 per cent to 4.449 million tonnes.

“Global cocoa demand is projected to decrease by almost 5 per cent to 4.779 million tonnes.”

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