WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — The West African countries of Ghana and the Ivory Coast together export more than 60 percent of the world’s cocoa and now they’ve teamed up to create a chocolate cartel.
Cocoa beans make up of the main ingredients in chocolate, and the news could mean an increase in cost for the savory food. Peter Shaw, the Professor of Business Management and Administration at TCC, said the countries upped the price on exports by $400 per metric ton and the goal is to increase money in the pockets of local farmers.
"The average farmer currently only makes about three dollars a day in the production process, so one of the pricing mechanisms that they're experimenting with is a $400 premium add-on,” said Shaw.
The premium would break down to a 16 percent increase in the price of chocolate. Shaw said the increase would be expected to impact prices potentially around October.
"The chocolate market is a billion-dollar market, so there's going to be some price increase and we know that's going to happen sooner rather than later,” he said.
Courtney Foge, the manager of Wythe Candy & Gourmet Shop in Williamsburg, said after 50 years of business, locals could always tell when prices increased.
"They have watched our prices change throughout the years and you can tell that they are like, 'Wow, it's getting more expensive,'” said Foge.
She added that the store had not yet seen a significant increase in chocolate costs. However, she said that should the costs come, the store would be prepared.
"We just kind of have to go with the increase and just hope that people still love the chocolate enough that they're going to pay what the retail price is,” said Foge.
In a statement, Hershey spokesman Jeff Beckman said the company supports raising the incomes of cocoa farmers:
"At Hershey, we have long supported initiatives that improve the livelihoods of farmers. Cocoa farmers should be able to support their families and earn a decent standard of living, and we support the goal of sustainably raising farmer incomes.
"We buy cocoa from multiple origins including Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana and time our purchases based on the needs of our business. As we buy cocoa from Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire for the 2020/2021 season, we will be supporting the new programs put in place by both governments and can confirm that we have started to do this.
"At the same time, we remain very committed to our sustainability work and to supporting producer governments on our mutual goals to tackle the root causes of poverty that put youth at risk as well as deforestation. We recognize the need for appropriate measures to control production and prevent new planting in restricted areas."