That chocolate bunny you bought for Easter cost more this year. There has been a flood of bad news about sweet stuff which has played hob with chocolatiers and other confectioners.
The civil war in Ivory Coast pushed the price of cocoa beans to at 30-year high in February, although most of this year’s crop was shipped out before the fighting started. The country supplies 40 percent of the world’s cocoa beans. The world price went down slightly in March.
Kisses and other Hershey products face a nearly 10 percent price increase. Company officials said it’s not just the price of cocoa, but increases in sugar, milk, and just about anything else that goes into the company’s products.
But the cost of ingredients isn’t what worries retailers. It’s the cost of transportation.
“Shipping has gone up astronomically,” said Beth Lehnert, manager of Chocolate Moose, a Washington D.C. store where dark chocolate is king. UPS, the store’s carrier of choice, has pushed up rates with fuel surcharges and other add-ons.
“They want $100 dollars for three big boxes of chocolate. We have to figure that in to the price of every chocolate bunny we sell,” Lehnert said. Small bunnies – 8.5 ounces – sold for $11 last year. They’re $12 this year, a 9 percent increase. The 18 ounce bunny is up nearly 6 percent, from $17 to $18.
She said sales are down a little this year, but the chocoholics among us still keep the store in business. Happy Easter.