Mzansi reacts to rise in chocolate prices as cocoa crisis deepens

Chocolate brands are grappling with the impact of higher cocoa costs, and this is resulting in price hikes and shrinkflation. Picture: Pexels

Chocolate brands are grappling with the impact of higher cocoa costs, and this is resulting in price hikes and shrinkflation. Picture: Pexels

Published Apr 23, 2024


According to the latest food crisis, chocolate lovers may have to dig deep into their pockets to be able to afford their favourite treats.

This is due to cocoa prices rising due to a global supply shortage, chronic underinvestment in cocoa farms, and investor speculation. Now, chocolate brands are grappling with the impact of higher cocoa costs, which could mean price hikes and shrinkflation.

With cocoa prices exceeding $10,000 (R190 825) a ton for the first time, companies are facing significant challenges in managing their costs.

Industry experts warn that companies, especially those catering to price-sensitive consumers, will struggle to maintain margins as they may have to source cocoa at elevated prices.

This situation is exacerbated by an estimated 8% decrease in cocoa supply for the 2023-24 season, primarily due to supply disruptions in major cocoa-producing regions like Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.

Some companies are already contemplating price hikes to offset the increased costs. Others are considering alternative strategies, such as reducing pack sizes and using approved substitutes for cocoa butter.

However, these measures may only provide temporary relief.

As the cocoa crisis deepens, many chocolate lovers have taken to social media to express their frustration with the “expensive” cost of chocolate these days.

On X, one user wrote: “This is a sad state of affairs, as it appears every time we are faced with a challenge, consumers have to suffer indirectly.

“The cocoa crisis should not be used to punish consumers, instead, alternative solutions must be found without the increase of the product prices.”

Another user wrote: “Chocolate getting pricier? Maybe it's a blessing in disguise. With sugar being dubbed deadlier than smoking, maybe it's time to rethink our sweet tooth obsession. Your health is worth more than a cheap thrill!”

A third said: “Chocolate is definitely going into the luxury segment, the way prices are going. Do you think this is an opportunity to make clients look at non-chocolate options?”

— Nestlé ESAR (@NestleESAR) April 15, 2024

Zumi Njongwe, a Nestlé business executive officer in confectionery in the East and Southern Africa region, noted that the soaring cocoa prices and supply shortages exacerbated by excessive rainfall in Ghana and Ivory Coast have profound implications not only for chocolate manufacturers but also for millions of cocoa-farming families worldwide, whose livelihoods depend on this commodity.

“Addressing the cocoa crisis and ensuring a sustainable future for cocoa-farming communities requires more than just changing farming and production methods.

“It also involves reshaping consumer preferences towards more sustainable options. Studies indicate that around 65% of consumers are inclined towards making choices that contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle.

“To meet this demand, food producers, suppliers, and retailers must make sustainable options easy, affordable, and attractive.

“This involves overcoming barriers such as price and availability and ensuring that sustainable options are as tasty and appealing as less sustainable alternatives. Innovation, reformulation, and the use of quality ingredients are essential in achieving this balance,” said Njongwe.