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Cocoa prices surged 136% between July 2022 and February 2024, reports UNCTAD

Heatwaves and shifting rain patterns are aggravating a shortfall of harvests in West Africa, the world’s largest cocoa-producing region

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GENEVA, Switzerland – Chocolate-loving consumers around the globe are being hit by higher cocoa prices due in part to climate change. The cost of cocoa, the key ingredient for making the beloved sweets, shot up by 136% between July 2022 and February 2024, according to UNCTAD commodities price monitoring.

The price increase has filtered through to consumers worldwide, already reeling under inflation and a generational cost-of-living crisis.

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Heatwaves and shifting rain patterns are hurting cocoa harvests

Cacao trees grow close to the equator and are sensitive to changes in weather.

The climate phenomenon known as “El Niño”, characterized by warmer surface temperatures in parts of the Pacific Ocean, has caused hotter weather and shifting rainfall patterns.

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In West Africa, which produces the bulk of global cocoa supplies, crops are increasingly under threat from heatwaves and climate-related risks.

Excess rains in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire during the fourth quarter of 2023 have led to a flare-up of swollen shoot virus and black pod disease – a condition that causes cocoa pods to rot and harden – aggravating a shortfall in harvests.

The repercussions, however, are global, given that the two countries produced 58% of the world’s cocoa between 2022 and 2023.

“For this reason, and in the face of short-run, price inelastic world demand for cocoa, supply-side shocks result in price spikes,” says UNCTAD senior economist Rodrigo Carcamo.

Renewed urgency to rein in the climate crisis

The cocoa price hike is just one example of how climate change has far-reaching impacts on society and the economy.

“It shows the importance for all consumers around the world that climate change is tackled, and that climate targets and climate change mitigation measures like nationally determined contributions are met,” Mr. Carcamo says.

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