One of the most important Christian holidays, Easter also carries significant economic importance. But rising cocoa prices might make the festivity less sweet this year.

Easter – a time for renewal, reflection and, of course, heaps of chocolate. This Christian holiday, celebrating Christ’s resurrection and the end of Lent, is also marked by plenty of non-believers, who use the extended weekend to travel, socialise, undertake DIY and indulge in sweet treats. That’s a lot of money circulating through economies across the globe.

According to the Australian Retailers Association, Aussies will spend A$2.05b on confectionery alone, while travel-related expenses will add up to a whopping A$9.6b. In the UK, more than 80 million Easter eggs are expected to be sold, with the total spend on chocolate, gifts, decorations and entertainment likely to reach more than £2b. Unsurprisingly though, the U.S. is where the really big bucks are splurged, with consumer spending expected to reach a total of US$22.4b this Easter.

But that’s actually US$1.6b down on last year. In 2024, the Easter Bunny might be feeling the pinch – and it’s not just about cost of living pressures. Due to unprecedented droughts in West Africa, the world’s biggest cocoa producing region, cocoa prices are skyrocketing. ICE futures contracts are already up more than 100% year-to-date, reaching all-time highs and surpassing US$9,000 per metric ton. There’s been a global shortage of cocoa since 2021, linked mainly to extraordinary climatic conditions.

Some chocolate makers have so far been successfully passing on the rising costs to their customers: Hershey’s ($HSY) and Cadbury-owner Mondelez ($MDLZ) have reported higher profit margins in their latest earnings. In some UK supermarkets, Easter egg prices have gone up significantly – as much as 60% year on year. Some manufacturers are resorting to ‘shrinkflation’, reducing the sizes of their chocolate eggs, while shops continue to sell them at the same price as last year.

For those who feel like chocolate prices are too prohibitive this season, it could be time to consider returning to the original tradition of decorating chicken eggs, the price of which has been falling since its peak in January 2023.

On the other hand, if money is no issue and you’re feeling extra fancy, there are plenty of Fabergé eggs to choose from. The timeless jewellery sets from the Russian Empire sell from £7,000, while the more elaborate ones can fetch millions, like the one that was picked up at a local flea market in the U.S. and then sold for more than US$30m. Probably the best Easter-related trade ever, with a profit that would get you a ludicrous amount of chocolate even at record prices.


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