Low Cocoa Crop Yields Have Sent Chocolate Prices Soaring

Cocoa futures hit a record high this week of over $10,000 per metric ton — not a great start to the Easter weekend.

Photo of Easter eggs in a basket
Photo by Dannyel Spasov via Unsplash

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The chocolate Easter Bunny is the new caviar.

The price of cocoa beans, the key ingredient in chocolate, has soared this year due to ailing crops in Ivory Coast and Ghana. Consumers were already feeling a chocolatey pinch around Valentine’s Day, but cocoa futures hit a record high this week of more than $10,000 per metric ton. Not a great start to the Easter weekend — but don’t worry, chocolate makers have a plan. 

Come With Me and You’ll See A World of Pure Shrinkflation

Despite cocoa’s torrid rise, analysts don’t seem hopeful that we’ve hit the chocolatey peak. Pascal Boll, analyst at Stifel, told The Wall Street Journal that it would be “risky” to assume the price of cocoa will start to come down soon. “The direction is clearly upwards,” Boll said. Of course, the first port of call for chocolatiers is to raise prices — and they’ve done that. Chocolate prices rose 11.6% over 2023, far outstripping the Consumer Price Index’s overall inflation figure of 3.4% for the year.

Graph depicting the rising price of cocoa from 2020 to today

Last year also saw some major chocolate manufacturers like Mars quietly shrink the size of their products to lessen the financial burden of procuring cocoa beans. Now some chocolate makers are even trying to cut chocolate out of the equation entirely:

  • CNN reported that Hershey has responded to the price increases by marketing Easter products that rely more heavily on other sugary ingredients like caramel or gummy.
  • Bloomberg reported last month that this trend was already in evidence at the Super Bowl, with Mars and Hershey buying ad spots for peanut butter M&M’s and caramel Reese’s Pieces, respectively.

Chocolate Tears: For Big Chocolate, offsetting costs is an achievable if uncomfortable goal, but for boutique or independent chocolatiers, the situation is more dire. Christopher Taylor, co-owner of Li-Lac Chocolates, told CNN that to break even the business would have to hike prices by 30%, but an increase like that could deter even the most ardent chocoholics.