Local chocolatiers face crazy cocoa market
The price of cocoa is up worldwide, an increase some local chocolatiers are eating, while others say they must pass it on to customers.
According to market-research firm Euromonitor International, the cost of1 kilogram of chocolate in the United States is expected to hit a record $12.25 this year, a 45 percent increase from 2007.
The price of chocolate has climbed from about $2,153 per metric ton in March to $2,736 this week — about a 27 percent change, according to the International Cocoa Organization.
A poor growing season in Africa — where most of the world's cocoa is harvested — combined with a high demand for the sweet stuff in Asia is to blame for the high prices.
Whether Alle-Kiski Valley candy-makers can absorb the cost depends largely on the size of their operations.
“I sign contracts every year with the company I get my chocolate from, and I just signed a new contract in June,” said John Mandak, owner of Valos Chocolates in Arnold. “It's a contract for 50,000 pounds of chocolate, and I didn't see any increase that would have to be passed on to the customer.”
Mandak said his chocolate increased in price by about 7 cents per pound, but he isn't rolling that hike into the price of his chocolate-covered cherries.
Mandak, who sells his chocolate out of his retail store in Arnold and in about 50 grocery stores, said he watches the cocoa market closely.
“I see this stuff on TV all the time, and I'm like, 'What are they talking about?' ” Mandak said. “I'm not seeing it.”
Mandak said if prices continue to go up, he might feel it in his next chocolate purchase in the spring.
Although Valos customers won't get a taste of the price hike yet, those who frequent some of the smaller chocolate stores in the Valley could see higher prices when they buy their holiday treats.
“It (the price of chocolate) is going crazy on me,” said Pete Basile, owner of Sweetlane Chocolate Shop in Vandergrift. “It has gone way up.
“It's going to up, the price of what I have to sell it for,” he added. “We try to not pass the price on to the consumer, but we have to make some profit.”
Basile said he buys his chocolate in 50-pound cases, which last about a month or two. He said the price of those cases has gone up about $40 per case in the past few months.
Basile said that along with the climbing price of cocoa, higher shipping costs have added to the price of chocolate in recent years.
Valerie Cannon opened Speckled Hen Chocolate Co., a Clinton Township specialty-chocolate store, in May and is nervous about how the high prices will affect her business.
“I haven't seen too much of a price increase yet,” said Cannon, whose store hand-dips every piece of chocolate it sells. “When they go up, it will be a ripple effect all the way through.
“We're a smaller operation, so I'm sure it'll hit us more,” she said. “It does worry me that demand will skyrocket.”
Cannon said she buys her chocolate when she needs it, something she fears might be a mistake.
“I'm new to all of this, and I'm probably not doing it right just yet,” she said. “It's one of those things that being so new to the business, I'm probably just being stupid.”
R.A. Monti is a freelance reporter for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Buffalo Township grandma pleads guilty to selling hundreds of pounds of weed
- Indiana Township suspect accused of raping juvenile
- Police: New Ken drug suspect, Brandon Allen, used wrong name
- Apollo-Ridge school bus safety program aims to drive message home
- 7 in custody after New Kensington drug raid
- Leechburg councilwoman resigns; applicants sought