Sweet squeeze

Crisis in the chocolate industry

Good morning, delicacy devotees. This is your Stock Market Rundown for April 1st, 2024. Thanks for joining me for another week of fun. Let’s dig in:

TODAY’S TOP STORY: I’M IN LOVE WITH THE COCOA

Did you notice you paid a bit more for your chocolate eggs and bunnies this year? Per industry sources, candy prices were up 10% from last Easter. And bad news for anybody with a sweet tooth: the price hikes on chocolate are only getting started. 

The West African countries that produce most of the cocoa beans that feed the chocolate industry had a catastrophic harvest. Half a million acres have been infected with a plant virus. It’s like the cocoa version of COVID—and it’s led to the worst crop in years.

The supply squeeze is causing a parabolic spike in cocoa prices, which have doubled in the past three months to hit a record high of over $10,000 a ton.

Confectioners like Hershey, Cadbury, and LIndt will be forced to raise prices, making your cavity-producing caloric indulgences more costly. Another likely tactic of manufacturers? “Shrinkflation”—reducing serving sizes while keeping prices the same. So, Mini-Eggs might be getting even more miniaturized.

This will cut into a lot of household treats budgets. According to industry forecasts, Americans will spend $3.1 billion on candy this Easter season, or $24.78 per person. That’s enough Cadbury Creme Eggs to fill a football stadium.

There hasn’t been this much turmoil in the chocolate world since the last major cocoa price spike in 1977. Back then, the typical office worker was probably enjoying a cigarette along with their afternoon Mars bar.

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SO WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?
  • Sam Bankman-Fried was sentenced to 25 years for his role as a ringleader in stealing billions from the customers of his crypto exchange, FTX. The fraudster will have to adjust to life with no internet access—and limited vegan food options

  • Hit the mall recently? Thanks for doing your part: US consumer spending surged last month.

  • Philip Morris will soon be launching its heated tobacco device in the US, starting in Texas. The gadget is supposedly less toxic than conventional cigarettes. Kind of wild that this is legal, but I guess if they can sell raspberry vapes at the gas station, anything goes. 

  • Not stuffed enough from a meal of french fries and Big Macs? You’re in luck: you’ll soon be able to get Krispy Kreme donuts at McDonald’s, thanks to a partnership that will have cardiologists shaking their heads.

That’s it for today, homeslices; let’s circle back first thing tomorrow morning. Yours in capitalism, The Axe

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