Home News Easter candy price increases are just the start as cocoa soars

Easter candy price increases are just the start as cocoa soars


Mumbi Gitau, Ilena Peng and Dayanne Sousa | (TNS) Bloomberg News

As the Easter holidays approach, higher cocoa prices mean shoppers are paying far more for their chocolate eggs and bunnies. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Higher prices in stores now reflect increases in cocoa in 2023. Since then, the rally has gone into overdrive, and cocoa has more than doubled in price already this year, making it the world’s hottest commodity.

In just the last three weeks, wholesale beans in New York have jumped more than 47%, exceeding $8,900 a ton — a level that once seemed unthinkable.

That means even higher prices for households as those moves feed through to retailers. But already, U.K. shoppers are paying more for chocolate, and sometimes getting less for their money, what’s known as “shrinkflation.” In Brazil, where Easter is a major celebration, chocolate egg prices recently became an internet meme when some stores advertised that people could buy them with loans and payment installments.

The record surge is being driven by disappointing harvests in cocoa’s West Africa heavyweights, Ivory Coast and Ghana, which account for most of the world’s production.

The industry is largely made up of smallholder farmers who have faced a legacy of poor returns, making it harder to invest in their plots or withstand extreme weather events.

“The true cost of chocolate has not been seen by consumers for a long time,” said Emily Stone, founder of specialty cocoa dealer Uncommon Cacao. “Persistent low prices to producers and climate change are driving the market up to these heights. Now, that comes as a shock to some, but this was predictable.”

The price increase is also a reminder that while headline inflation rates are easing around the world, surges in individual commodities can still put the squeeze on consumers. Chocolate may be seen as more a luxury than a necessity, but brands like Kit Kat and Snickers are often regular parts of weekly shopping baskets.

Consumers may even be more sensitive to such price increases after what they’ve been through in recent years. Memories of the post-pandemic inflation spike — and the damage it did to household finances – are still very fresh.

“It’s really expensive,” school counselor Isabel Cristina Brandão said as she picked up three small private label eggs from a candy store in Sao Paulo. She remembers her shopping cart used to be filled a few years ago. “Now we pay more, for a lot less.”

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