Bitter sweet: Rising dark chocolate consumption drives up price

By Annie-Rose Harrison-Dunn

- Last updated on GMT

Increased dark chocolate consumption could push up cocoa prices
Increased dark chocolate consumption could push up cocoa prices

Related tags: Dark chocolate, Chocolate

Rising dark chocolate consumption is driving up prices, according to data from Euromonitor International, with China, Switzerland and the US having the highest retail value.

Dark chocolate generally requires more cocoa beans per ounce to make than milk chocolate, meaning even marginal shifts in chocolate habits can have big price impacts.

Market research firm Euromonitor International said that the cost of one kilogram of chocolate in the US will increase by 45% to $12.25 this year. 

Cocoa deficit

The dark chocolate trend comes amid worries of a cocoa deficit due to pests, diseases and adverse weather conditions in producing countries.

However, earlier this month the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) reduced its cocoa deficit forecast slightly for the current crop year saying there are enough stocks for chocolate manufacturers but a deficit next year could still raise prices.

Laurent Pipitone, director of the ICCO's economic division, told ConfectioneryNews: “If there is a deficit next year, this will have an impact on prices​.”

According to the ICCO’s monthly averages of daily prices, current cocoa prices are around the $2,500 per MT mark.

Regional tastes

According to the data 34% of China’s retail value in the chocolate sector lies with plain dark chocolate, up 7% from 2008. This figure stands at 26% for plain milk (-10% from 2008) and 0.5% is in plain white (-1.5%) and 39.5% in filled chocolate (+4.5%).

China is the biggest spender within the dark chocolate category across the countries included - followed by Switzerland with 30% (+8% from 2008) and the US with 19.9% (+1.5%) - whilst it has the lowest of the retail value percentage within the white chocolate breakdown.

China has been tipped for some time as an emerging market to watch in terms of chocolate consumption and the broader snack sector.

Discussing this emerging opportunity with sister site, Canadean analyst Ronan Stafford said that foreign companies entering the Chinese market must be prepared to make adjustments.

“China represents a strong opportunity but products must be tailored to fit the market,”​ Stafford explained.

He warned that manufacturers must be careful not to go too sweet, as Chinese consumers did not favor such products. 

White choc fights for market share

Plain white chocolate holds the lowest retail value across the categories with Brazil proving to be the biggest market at 15.5%. Second to Brazil is the UK at 6.6%, followed by Germany at 5.4%.

Across all the countries surveyed only Germany showed growth in this category since 2008 - rising from 4.7% to 5.4% in 2013. Despite being the second biggest white chocolate market, the UK dropped the most during this same time period, falling from 9% to 6.6%. 

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