Here is something our local chocolate makers – like candy makers nationwide — are watching: the hot, dry weather in West Africa.
A story in this morning’s Wall Street Journal outlined how the weather in West Africa, the top cocoa-producing region in the world, has limited the growing season for cocoa beans. The result is a 13 percent hike in the price of cocoa beans since January and warnings this week that prices could soar even higher. The WSJ says the heat and lack of rain in the Ivory Coast has already put a dent in supply forecasts.
Now, weather forecasters are predicting another el nino, a global weather phenomenon that usually means even more dry and hot conditions for West Africa. If this el nino is severe – an no one agrees on how bad this one will be – further tightening of supplies could occur, which would eventually mean higher prices for the rest of us.
In case you missed it, cocoa prices spiked in 2011, too. That led national candy makers to raise prices, adjust serving sizes or use other methods to contain their costs. For instance, Hershey late last month said almost all of its second-quarter increases came from higher prices.