Cocoa prices reach new highs before Valentine’s Day

Love may be in the air, but so is the aroma of uncertainty for chocolate enthusiasts worldwide

Workers fill sacks with cocoa beans at an agricultural cooperative in Guiglo, Ivory Coast, Oct. 7, 2016. — Facebook/kusuma2 

As lovebirds eagerly prepare for a day filled with sweet gestures, a bitter truth lurks in the background — the soaring prices of cocoa are casting a shadow over Valentine’s Day chocolates. 

In a shocking development, cocoa futures closed last Friday at an all-time high of $5,888.00 per ton, leaving chocolate lovers in disbelief. 

The surge signifies a consistent upward trend, with prices more than doubling in the last year and escalating by about one-third in the past month alone.

What’s driving the surge?

Chocolate producers, heavily reliant on cocoa as the core ingredient, find themselves in a challenging predicament. The limited supply of cocoa has prompted discussions among manufacturers about potential adjustments to chocolate prices. 

Hershey’s, a key player in the industry, acknowledged the impact during a recent call with analysts. CEO Michele Buck, cautiously addressing the situation, hinted at the possibility of adjusting chocolate prices, as said, “Historic cocoa prices are expected to limit earnings growth this year.”

The surge in cocoa prices isn’t an isolated incident as it’s intricately linked to widespread diseases and weather fluctuations affecting cocoa-producing regions. 

Ivory Coast and Ghana, responsible for 60 percent of global cocoa output, grapple with the spread of diseases through their plantations. Additionally, the El Niño warm weather phenomenon has ushered in unusually dry conditions, exacerbating the already challenging crop shortage.

As the chocolate industry confronts these challenges, the future of cocoa prices remains uncertain. 

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