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Cocoa prices reach record high ahead of Valentine's Day

(The Hill) – The cost of cocoa has soared in the past month, reaching an all-time high at the end of last week – just ahead of Valentine’s Day.

Cocoa futures closed on Friday at $5,888.00 per ton, topping Thursday’s record. The price has more than doubled in the last year and has increased by about one-third in the last month.

Chocolate producers, which rely on cocoa as the product’s main ingredient, have felt the price crunch, as the supply has grown more limited.

In a call with analysts last Thursday, chocolate manufacturer Hershey’s chief executive did not rule out increasing the price of chocolate for customers as they manage increasing prices.

“Historic cocoa prices are expected to limit earnings growth this year,” CEO Michele Buck said, according to multiple reports.

“We can’t talk about future pricing,” she reportedly said, adding, “given where cocoa prices are, we will be using every tool in our toolbox, including pricing, as a way to manage the business.”

The price crunch comes amid widespread disease and weather changes affecting cocoa producers. Diseases have spread through plantations in Ivory Coast and Ghana, two of the leading cocoa producers. Together, they account for 60 percent of global output.

The El Nino warm weather phenomenon has also brought unusual dry weather to the region and is expected to further exacerbate the crop shortage.

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