If your loved one is expecting chocolate this Valentine's Day, celebrating it may prove not-so-sweet for your wallet.
The price of cocoa—chocolate's main ingredient—has more than doubled in the past year and risen more than 40% in just the past month, hitting all-time highs.
Chocolate makers in the U.S., where Americans annually consume about nine-and-a-half pounds of chocolate per person, have swallowed some of the increase. But not all.
U.S. retail chocolate prices increased 10% in 2023, about three times the rate of consumer inflation—and that was before cocoa prices continued surging after the first of the year.
Adverse weather and tree disease in West Africa, which produces about two-thirds of the world's cocoa, has decimated output in Ivory Coast and Ghana, the world's two largest cocoa bean producers. Chocolate makers grind cocoa beans to make liqueur and butter used in product formulations.
Cocoa futures for March delivery on the Intercontinental Exchange in New York and London closed at $5,888 per metric ton Friday, the latest in a series of historic highs.
A year ago, cocoa traded near $2,600 per metric ton; as recently as a month ago, prices hovered near $4,000-4,200 per metric ton.
Meanwhile, prices for sugar, the other key ingredient in chocolate, also have risen about 25% in the past year.
Some analysts project the global cocoa supply shortage will stretch into its fourth year by 2025 amid increasing forecasts for El Nino patterns to dominate global weather.
Persistent winds that have dried out cocoa trees in western Africa caused Ivory Coast farmers to ship 36% less cocoa to the Africa's west coast ports in the four months ended Jan. 28 than they did in the same period a year ago.
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