• The world is into its third season of a “global deficit” of cocoa, as diminishing supply struggles to keep up with firm demand. Image: Getty
    The world is into its third season of a “global deficit” of cocoa, as diminishing supply struggles to keep up with firm demand. Image: Getty
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According to Rabobank data, Australian consumers are facing higher chocolate prices heading into Easter, with retail chocolate prices up 8.8 per cent on the previous year as global cocoa prices soar.

The global price of cocoa, a key ingredient in chocolate, has increased more than 200 per cent (in Australian dollar terms) in the same period, off the back of international supply shortages.

RaboResearch associate analyst Pia Piggott said the world is into its third season of a “global deficit” of cocoa, as diminishing supply struggles to keep up with firm demand.

Piggott said a range of issues has seen a reduction in cocoa production in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, in West Africa, where 60 per cent of the world’s cocoa beans are grown.

“There is no single root catalyst for this deficit. It is a combination of a range of agricultural and other factors, including adverse weather conditions, ageing trees and disease in crops.

“There are also other challenges for growers, including increasing sustainability regulations and requirements – including in import markets – which are also limiting supply growth. These include European Union deforestation regulations, which limit area expansion and increase traceability requirements,” said Piggott.

Retail prices

Piggott said retail prices for chocolate have risen over the past two years, broadly in line with the overall rise in food price inflation.

“However, while price inflation has now receded in many food categories, we are continuing to see it remain high for chocolate,” said Piggott.

Many chocolate products had either experienced price rises or ‘shrinkflation’ – where prices remained stable, but the size of products decreased.

Piggot said that on a slightly positive note, Rabobank’s data analysis indicated price inflation on specific Easter chocolate products was slightly lower than overall chocolate inflation, registering an increase of 7.4 per cent overall compared with last Easter.

“However, this is because Easter chocolates are generally at a higher price point to begin with and are used as promotional products, so brands are less inclined to raise prices,” said Piggott.

With cocoa costs forecast to remain high on the back of long-term supply issues, Rabobank expects continuing higher prices for chocolate products into the future.

“We expect inflation on chocolate products to remain high and we may see more shrinkflation or product innovations and reformulations as manufacturers seek to minimise cost increases for consumers,” said Piggot.

Despite this, there are still opportunities for consumers to shop for “Easter bargains”.

“As an important drawcard for retailers, there are often promotional activities around chocolate products so consumers can take advantage of these discounts.

“While comparing unit prices on individual products is one simple way to compare ‘value’,” said Piggott.

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