Binge Now: Chocolate Prices May Spike

Soaring cocoa prices slim down candy makers' profit margins

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 13, 2009 10:52 AM CST

(Newser) – Soaring cocoa prices have left chocolate makers wondering how far they can hike prices without souring business, the Wall Street Journal reports. Crop woes in Africa have kept cocoa pricey despite the global commodities slump. Chocolate companies are mostly holding prices steady for now but many are expected to fatten their slim profit margins after the Valentine's Day rush.

Sales of chocolate rose 2.3% in the US last year despite the downturn, but retailers say shoppers are scaling back their Valentine's Day spending this year. To avoid passing on cocoa prices to consumers, high-end chocolatier Godiva has cut back on fancy packaging and replaced truffles with solid chocolate in its boxes.

Solid chocolate, top, is tempered or melted for Valentine's Day candies at the Thomas Sweet Chocolate shop in Princeton, N.J., Monday, Feb. 11, 2008.
Solid chocolate, top, is tempered or melted for Valentine's Day candies at the Thomas Sweet Chocolate shop in Princeton, N.J., Monday, Feb. 11, 2008.   (AP Photo/Mike Derer)
Crop diseases have helped keep the price of cocoa high despite big falls in most other commodity prices.
Crop diseases have helped keep the price of cocoa high despite big falls in most other commodity prices.   (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)
Handmade chocolate candies are for sale for Valentine's Day at the Thomas Sweet Chocolate shop in Princeton, N.J., Monday, Feb. 11, 2008.
Handmade chocolate candies are for sale for Valentine's Day at the Thomas Sweet Chocolate shop in Princeton, N.J., Monday, Feb. 11, 2008.   (AP Photo/Mike Derer)
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