Chocolate prices could soar by up to 20 per cent as a result of the Ebola outbreak in Africa, experts have warned.
The cost of cocoa beans is already up 18.5 per cent year on year and there are fears the health crisis could spark further increases over the coming weeks.
Manufacturers of chocolate will decide how much of the price hike they pass on to the consumer, but it is inevitable that prices of products on shop shelves will rise.
The problem is the fear factor, according to analysts as the crop is good, supply is high and the countries which produce most of the world’s beans have not been hit by Ebola.
But these nations – Ghana and Ivory Coast mainly – do have borders with countries like Liberia where most of the 4,000 deaths to date have been recorded, said analysts Mintec.
This affects transportation links in the area, migrant workers from disease affected countries but, mainly, the fear that Ebola could spread to cocoa producing nations.
Around 60 per cent of the world’s cocoa is farmed Ivory Coast and Ghana.
Already the international market price of cocoa beans has risen 18.5 per cent in the last 12 months to £1,891 a tonne, Mintec told trade journal The Grocer.
Some of that is a result of growing demand from countries like China whose consumers are fast developing Western-style tastes for chocolate that they never used to have.
Cocoa butter, a key ingredient for some chocolate products, is also up year on year but only by 7 per cent so far. Good weather has produced a bumper crop, up 10 per cent this year on last to 4.3 million tonnes.