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Chocolate Crisis: Cocoa Bean Production Will Fall Short of Demand This Year


Because of dry weather in West Africa, where most cocoa beans are produced, demand for chocolate will exceed supply for first time in three years -- and prices are going up.

It's going to be a rough Halloween season for chocolate lovers. That's because chocolate, the sweetest of products, is getting expensive.

With an international cocoa bean shortage, chocolate prices are on target to hit an all-time high of $12.25 per kilogram – a 45% increase since 2007.

This is the first time in three years that the world's cocoa bean supply is expected to fall short of demand. Experts blame the situation on unusually dry weather in West Africa, where the majority of the beans are produced.

The cocoa bean crisis comes just as the demand for chocolate is surging.

This year, total chocolate consumption in the US is expected to rise for the first time since 2008, according to Euromonitor International, a London-based market research firm. Demand in Western Europe is expected to rise for a fourth year in a row.

The demand is driven in part by a craving for dark chocolate, which typically requires more cocoa beans to produce than milk chocolate.

Dark chocolate's share of the US market will approach 20% this year, from just over 18% in 2008, the Wall Street Journal reports. That's compared to Switzerland -- the country with the highest chocolate consumption -- where the share of dark chocolate is at 30% from 22% in 2008.

So far, cocoa prices are up 21% in the third quarter of the year, causing investors to make bullish bets on cocoa.

The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission reported that money managers had placed $1.72 billion of bullish bets on cocoa as of September 17, according to the Wall Street Journal. Experts say the move in the $5.4 billion cocoa futures market could likely make chocolate even more pricey.

Better stock up now!

Editor's Note: This article by Brianna Ehley originally appeared on The Fiscal Times.

For more from The Fiscal Times:

The 9 Most Expensive Junk Foods

11 Foods You Can't Buy Anywhere Anymore

Why Sleep-Deprived Brains Fall for Junk Food

Follow The Fiscal Times on Twitter @TheFiscalTimes.
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