Chocolate lovers face higher prices after Easter, says bank

Chocolate lovers should make the most of Easter amid warnings that a rise in the wholesale price of cocoa could soon make the treat more expensive.

The price of the sought-after commodity, driven by growing middle classes and the shift to premium chocolate products in established markets like the UK, has surged by more than 30% this year amid concerns about the size and quality of crops in key African growing areas, according to food and agribusiness bank Rabobank.

It expects a significant fall in production if farmers in Cote D'Ivoire, one of the main suppliers of cocoa, do not receive a higher price for their beans, which could result in a cocoa supply deficit, pushing up the price of beans further.

It warned that this in turn could make chocolate production more expensive, which may lead to higher consumer prices later this year.

The current wholesale price of cocoa is around 2,550 US dollars (£1,820) per tonne.

Charles Clack, commodity analyst at Rabobank, said: "Cocoa has been one of the most sought-after commodities for some time now.

"This year the cocoa market has been relentless with concerns about crops in Africa supporting the price. Fears now surround whether the internal prices paid will be high enough to encourage West African farmers to maintain production levels.

"If they aren't and we end up with a global cocoa deficit, this could push up prices. Eventually, this would reach consumers, who could see the price of their chocolate increase by the end of the year.

"So while they should enjoy this weekend's chocolate, the outlook may not be quite so sweet."

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