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Chocolate prices may rise

BY NICHOLAS MOFFITT | DECEMBER 01, 2014 5:00 AM

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Buying a dark chocolate truffle may cost a little more this year.

By 2020, an anticipated shortfall could leave cocoa prices skyrocketing, according to Barry Callebaut, a major worldwide chocolate producer.

In the short-term, prices per ton of cocoa could rise up to 15 percent by the end of the year, according to a Bloomberg survey of chocolate producers.

But that doesn’t worry local chocolatiers.

“When it comes to chocolate, I don’t think people will stop buying,” said Saf Ibrik, the owner of Aspen Leaf Frozen Yogurt and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, 125 S. Dubuque St.

He said while it may be a luxury good, people love their chocolate and will find a way to have money for chocolate.

Part of the reason for the shortage is due to weather problems in Africa, where 70 percent of the cocoa is grown, according to the World Cocoa Foundation.

Bama Yao Octave from CropLife African Middle East said in a statement that 30 to 40 percent of all cocoa produced in Africa is lost every year to pests and disease.

“[It’s] equating to more than 1 million tonnes of cocoa which, incidentally, would be enough to meet the anticipated supply shortfall in 2020,” Octave said.

A new competitor in the chocolate business in the Iowa City area is Winans Chocolate and Coffees, 470 First Ave., and owner Cindy Riley said for it, the shortage is further down the road than for other chocolate-based businesses.

Riley said her establishment gets its chocolate from single-source, fair-trade farms in Nicaragua and Honduras.

Despite using a farm in Central America, she said, the shortage could have an effect on her business.

“Chocolate is kind of a luxury good,” she said. “If it gets too expensive, people might reconsider.”

Dark chocolate has seen a growth upwards of 40 percent since 2007, according to market research firm Euromonitor, and it could contribute to the shortage because it uses a much higher percentage of cocoa.

Ibrik and Riley said they’ve seen the rise in popularity of dark chocolate in their stores. 

“People definitely lean one way or the other when it comes to dark chocolate,” Riley said.

Ibrik said the news is the biggest booster of dark chocolate for his store.

“Every time a story pops up in the news and social media about dark chocolate, there is an uptick in sales,” he said.

Another local business, Sweets and Treats, 201 S. Clinton St., said the shortage could have an effect on prices, but it is ready to adapt.

“I would imagine people would get new tastes,” owner Monique Holtkamp said. “We would have to shift, because they’d eat different things.”


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