Rising Cocoa Prices Impact Small Businesses

Last week, cocoa prices hit a two-year high of $2,770 per ton due to increased demand, and experts expect the prices to keep rising. At the National Chocolate and Dessert Show in Chicago, FBN’s Jeff Flock spoke with Kona Bar founder Christian Zenger, whose chocolate company specializes in exotic flavors like chocolate with hibiscus and Tahitian vanilla. Zenger says regulations and rising cocoa prices are impacting the young company, especially when it comes to dark chocolate. In New York, chocolate shop MarieBelle’s corporate manager Rodolfo Espinal tells FOXBusiness.com that cocoa prices have been on the rise for nearly four years, when Africa stopped exporting chocolate. “We normally get our chocolate from South America, but when the [African] problems happened, the company we worked with took advantage of that because we had no other option. They took advantage of that and increased prices,” says Espinal. As prices have continued to rise, Espinal says the 12-year-old company has been significantly impacted. “We’ve tried to keep prices still the same, prices we’ve always had, even though it’s bigger cost on our end, so we can still be competitive in the market,” says Espinal. As a result, Espinal says the company is now changing the way it makes its signature chocolates. “We’re in the process of getting into our own bean-to-bar, making our own chocolate,” says Espinal.

MarieBelle currently buys chocolate and processes it in the shop to make its treats. “We’ll be buying cocoa, making our own cocoa liquor and transforming it into chocolate to use it for our products, which will cut costs down,” says Espinal. He says the move will mean a major investment on the part of the company in order to buy the necessary equipment, but it will help MarieBelle increase its profits without having to raise prices.