Halloween Alert: Dark Clouds over Dark Chocolate
Halloween
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The Fiscal Times
September 23, 2013

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 percent increase since 2007.

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This is the first time in three years 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.

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This year, total chocolate consumption in the U.S. 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 U.S. market will approach 20 percent this year, from just over 18 percent 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 percent from 22 percent in 2008.

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

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

Better stock up now!

Washington Correspondent Brianna Ehley, based in D.C., covers Congress, government agencies and spending issues, health care, and tax and economic policy for The Fiscal Times.