Home Estate Planning Truffle ahead as cocoa price surge spells costly Valentine’s Day for chocolate-loving Brits

Truffle ahead as cocoa price surge spells costly Valentine’s Day for chocolate-loving Brits

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Outside of Halloween and Christmas, Valentine’s Day ranks as one of the biggest days for chocolate sales globally.

But like last year, Brits are set to be paying more for their sweet treats this year as the cocoa industry reels from global warming, labour issues and supply chain pressures.

Cocoa prices surged to an all-time high of $5,874 (£4,658) per tonne last week on New York’s Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) – an increase of more than 40 per cent since the start of the year and surpassing the record high of $5,379 that had stood since 1977.

London cocoa futures are up to £4,774 a tonne as of today, a 127 per cent increase on this time last year.

According to the value tracking tool from food and drink retail outlet The Grocer, the price of UK supermarket’s own label milk and dark chocolate bars are up 44.8 and 43 per cent respectively on this time last year.

Cocoa prices are almost uniquely volatile in the commodity market because almost three-quarters of the global supply comes from Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.

Both areas have suffered catastrophic natural impacts on harvests in recent years including droughts bringing on dryness affecting cocoa plant growth and the spread of plant-ravaging diseases across the already hampered crops.

US confectionery giant Hershey last week, six days out from Valentine’s Day, said that it was having to be creative to maintain operations as normal.

“Given where cocoa prices are, we will be using every tool in our toolbox, including pricing, as a way to manage the business,” Hershey chief executive Michele Buck said during an earnings call last Thursday.

Major manufacturers Nestlé and Mondelez have been raising prices to offset the higher raw material costs as well as wages and have warned more price hikes could come later this year.

Confectionery producers could also face headwinds from sugar prices, which are on an upward trajectory also thanks to bad seasonal and non-seasonal weather, up nearly $2 (£1.58) per pound on this time last year.

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