Hold on to Your Chocolate! Chocolate Prices Soar

Cocoa prices have doubled since the start of the year. What else is at risk?
March 24, 2024
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bars of chocolate
Image Credit: Getty Images, HUIZENG HU

You might want to keep that leftover chocolate from last Halloween because cocoa prices, cocoa being the main ingredient for chocolate production, have exploded.

Last Wednesday, cocoa prices on the New York commodities market reached a new all-time high of $8,324 a ton, up more than 100% since the start of the year.

cocoa prices on NY commodities exchange going up

What caused this?

The El Niño, a climate pattern that originates in the Pacific Ocean along the equator and impacts weather worldwide, is causing drier temperatures in West Africa, where 75% of the world’s cocoa is produced.

In addition, according to a new analysis by an international team of scientists, human-induced climate change pushed the area-averaged heat index 4°C higher in mid-February.

Extreme heat affects the physiology of cocoa plants through reduced rates of photosynthesis and transpiration—or, in layman’s terms, extreme heat decreases yield and increases the chances that the crop will die.

While shocking to consumers, since they are only now feeling the impacts of the price changes, media outlets like CNBC have been tracking this since the start of October.

What other foods could be susceptible to climate change and subsequent price increases?

  • Coffee: By 2050, experts predict climate change could cut coffee production in half by reducing the amount of land suitable for coffee cultivation.
  • Bananas: Rising temperatures impact bananas and disseminate diseases much faster than if you had more normal weather patterns. Fusarium Wilt TR4, a fungal infection, has already wiped out banana plantations in Australia, Asia, Africa, and South America. Experts predict price increases soon.
  • Avocados: California is responsible for 90% of the U.S.’s avocado supply. A significant drought like the one in 2021 could push prices to new highs.

What’s that? You haven’t had your morning coffee? It might become a thing of the past…

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