Global shortages and high demand for chocolate have sent futures soaring © Getty Images / fcafotodigital

Prices for cocoa soared to their highest level in nearly half a century this week amid declining global supply, according to trading data.

New York futures for the key chocolate-making ingredient rose above $4,200 per metric ton, the highest price for the commodity since September 1977, surpassing the 2011 peak that resulted from that year’s cocoa export ban by Cote d’Ivoire. Prices have skyrocketed by roughly 75% so far this year.

Experts have attributed the spike in prices to poor crops in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, which supply two-thirds of the world’s cocoa beans, amid extreme weather and crop diseases due to lower fertilizer use by farmers. The start of the harvest in both regions has already fallen behind last season’s pace, media outlets report, raising fears of a further tightening of the already undersupplied market.

According to Trading Economics data, Cote d’Ivoire farmers shipped 348,560 metric tons of cocoa from October 1 to November 12, which was 25.3% lower than in the same period last year.

Industry analysts also note that further price spikes are likely due to the threat to global supply posed by the El Niño weather phenomenon, which is expected to dry out West Africa in the coming months. Supply shortages are also exacerbated by an increase in global demand for cocoa beans, with processing in Europe, Brazil, and Cote d’Ivoire on the rise in recent months.

According to the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO), the global market is facing a deficit of 116,000 metric tons of cocoa for the ongoing growing season (October 2022 to September 2023).

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