Chocoholics may have noticed that the humble Mars bar, priced at 38p six months ago, now costs 44p. The reason? Among other factors, cocoa prices are edging up, with futures rising above £830 per tonne last week.
Markets are growing concerned about a number of potential disruptions to supply. A strike last month by cocoa farmers in the Cote d'Ivoire, which produces 40% of world output, was quickly settled, but political uncertainty remains after a series of failed elections. One buyer of Ivorian cocoa told the FT that problems are long-standing: "This time it could really widen into something very big and that will have a knock-on effect on prices." The country has been divided since 2002, when a coup failed to topple president Laurent Gbagbo, and land disputes are common.
Crops have also been reduced by the so-called swollen shoot virus, reports VOA.com. In Ghana, the second-largest cocoa producer, this has destroyed 200 million cocoa trees over 50 years and extended to Nigeria and Cameroon. Meanwhile, in Papua New Guinea, confectionery giant Mars is combating an infestation of the cocoa pod borer a small moth with a cocoa addiction that lays its eggs in the pod. The emergence of the pest is "a real threat to overall production in Asia", a Mars spokesman told the FT.
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