‘Cuckoo for cocoa’: Chocolate prices on the rise ahead of Easter

An increase in chocolate prices could mean Easter eggs will be more egg-spensive this year.

According to experts, the spike in the seasonal sweet treats is due in part to high demand and the skyrocketing price of cocoa.

“Since November, cocoa prices went from US$3,000 a metric tonne to US$10,000 a metric tonne and the previous record was set back in July of 1977,” said Sylvain Charlebois, the director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University. “People are going cuckoo for cocoa!”

He said the inflated cost is fueled by a “black pod” fungus infecting cacao trees, as well as flooding facing producers in Ghana and the Ivory Coast.

“Those two countries actually represent about two-thirds of the world’s coca production,” Charlebois said.

Robert Parsons, a sessional instructor in supply chain management at the University of Manitoba said high seasonal demand doesn’t help.

“Everyone decides they’re going to get chocolate around Easter,” he said. “That’s why there’s an elevated demand. And if you have supply constraints, that’s why the prices are really gonna go super high.”

Decadence Chocolates, a shop located in Winnipeg’s West Broadway neighbourhood said it’s feeling the pinch.

“I’m absolutely concerned,” owner Helen Staines said.

While Staines hasn’t raised her prices yet, she said a hike could be on the horizon.

“I will try and keep it as minimal as I can,” she said. “I probably will not increase the price as full as my chocolate price is increased, but I’ll have to look at it.”

Local grocery stores said they’re finding that Easter candy prices are up, but sales are down.

“Normally, the (Easter) section…by around this time last year, would be almost three-quarters empty,” said Munther Zeid, Food Fare’s owner. “With rising costs, people are really watching what they’re buying.”

Staines said she knows high costs all too well.

“Price of sugar has already affected us, price of ginger, anything, any food product has affected us so far,” she said.

Both Charlebois and Parsons said while the price of chocolate will likely remain high for some time, it’s not expected to last forever. However, it’s not clear when the confectionary costs will melt down.

To get ahead of rising chocolate prices, they said people’s best bet is to wait until after Easter when there’s a lower demand and sales. They also recommend buying chocolate for Mother’s Day beforehand, perhaps with Easter goodies, to beat possible price hikes in the future.

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