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Chocolate prices could soar as climate change worsens cocoa crisis

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At Easter, chocolate lovers will no doubt have noticed that they have to pay more for their eggs.

Now the price of chocolate could soar after climate change affected cocoa supplies in West Africa.

Seasonal dusty winds from the Sahara have been brutal in recent months, blocking the sunlight needed for cocoa pods to grow. GhanaTHE Ivory Coast, Nigeria And Cameroon – where around three quarters of the world’s cocoa production is produced.

During the previous season, heavy rains spread a rot disease among cocoa trees, which produce cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate.

Around three-quarters of global cocoa production is produced in four West African countries.
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Around three-quarters of global cocoa production is produced in four West African countries

Chocolate makers have already increased their prices for consumers after three years of poor harvests, with Which? say Easter eggs and bunnies costs about 50% more this yearwhile others have decreased in size.

The global price of cocoa has risen sharply as exports from Ivory Coast, the world’s largest producer, have fallen by a third in recent months.

The price has already doubled this year, trading at a record high of more than $10,000 (£7,920) per metric tonne of cocoa in New York on Tuesday.

But farmers who harvest cocoa beans have expressed concern that the increases are not enough to cover their higher production costs and lower yields, which many blame on climate change.

Cocoa trees only grow near the equator and are particularly sensitive to climate change.

Farmers harvest cocoa from trees and sell it to local dealers or processing factories. They process the beans into butter, powder and liquor that can be made into chocolate and sell the products to global chocolate companies.

Cocoa is traded on a regulated global market, with prices set up to a year in advance.

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A farmer opens a cocoa pod in Ivory Coast.  Photo: Associated Press
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A farmer opens a cocoa pod. Photo: AP

A selection box of luxury artisanal Belgian chocolates.  Photo: AP
Picture:
A selection box of luxury artisanal Belgian chocolates. Photo: AP

The system breaks down in times of shortage

However, in times of shortage, the system breaks down, with local dealers paying a higher price to farmers to obtain beans.

As global traders rush to buy these beans at any price to fulfill their obligations to global chocolate companies, local processors often find themselves short of beans.

A worker holds sun-dried cocoa beans in Ghana.  Photo: Reuters
Picture:
A worker holds sun-dried cocoa beans. Photo: Reuters

Factories are forced to stop or reduce processing

Several large African cocoa factories in Ivory Coast and Ghana have been forced to stop or reduce their processing because they are not receiving the cocoa they had pre-ordered and cannot afford to buy cocoa. beans at higher prices, Reuters reported earlier this month.

The International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) said the mismatch between supply and demand would leave the market with a deficit of 374,000 tonnes this season, compared to 74,000 last season.

As a result, processors and chocolate makers will have to draw on their cocoa stocks to fully cover their needs and the ICCO said it expects cocoa stocks to fall to their lowest level in 45 years. here is the end of the season.

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