Cocoa prices surge, posing challenges for chocolate enthusiasts worldwide


(MENAFN) Chocolate enthusiasts worldwide may soon face a challenge as cocoa prices surge to unprecedented levels, with experts predicting no relief in sight through 2024. Since the start of last year, cocoa prices have more than doubled, hitting a record high of USD9,010.59 per ton on the New York commodities market in February's second week.

Several factors have contributed to this surge, including adverse weather conditions, smuggling activities, and the prevalence of swollen shoot disease. These issues have led to reduced crop yields in key cocoa-producing countries like Ivory Coast, responsible for nearly 40 percent of global cocoa bean production, and Ghana, which contributes 20 percent.

The El Nino weather pattern, known for causing dry conditions in West Africa, has further exacerbated cocoa production challenges in these regions. Strong seasonal winds and insufficient rainfall have compounded the shortage, prompting traders to compete for limited supplies and driving prices skyward.

Chocolate manufacturers, faced with escalating costs of primary ingredients, are bracing for potential declines in demand. According to a report by ingredients supplier Henley Bridge, cocoa price hikes of 15-20 percent are anticipated for the first half of 2024, with expectations of continued increases throughout the year.

This surge in cocoa pricing has already reverberated throughout the industry, prompting chocolate makers to adapt their operations to navigate the challenging landscape. As cocoa prices continue their upward trajectory, consumers may notice changes in chocolate availability and pricing in the coming months.

"It's upsetting considering we haven't witnessed such a significant decrease in cocoa output in recent years," Samuel Adimado, leader of the Ghana cocoa buyers group, voiced his apprehension regarding the decline in cocoa production.

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