top of page

'Eggflation' — Climate Change Raises Chocolate Prices

As April rolls in, supermarkets scurry to try and fill shelves with easter chocolate ranging from Creme Eggs to Malteser chocolate bunnies and hamper-filled goodies. Seeing the rack of Mini Eggs stacked in the corner of Sainsbury’s reminds us that spring is emerging from the depths of winter. Meanwhile, chocolate companies like Cadbury and Lindt battle to maximise their seasonal sales as Easter spending generates whopping profits for confectionary brands worldwide. In the UK alone, consumers are likely to spend around £415 million on easter eggs in 2024. You may have noticed that prices of Easter chocolate have been on the rise. This concept dubbed ‘eggflation’ refers to the more than 12 per cent increase in the price of eggs since January 2024. The reason for this is because of our changing climate.

 

Cocoa beans are the main ingredient used in the production of chocolate, with more than 70 per cent of all cocoa supply coming from West Africa — specifically Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Mali. Cocoa trees require specific temperature conditions to grow. The optimal point is at 20 degrees latitude, around the Equator. This makes cocoa farmers critically vulnerable to changing climate patterns which can severely disrupt output for farmers. Unfortunately, fluctuating weather cycles have hit the crops hard. Soaring temperatures and humid heat waves, breaking over 50 Celsius in some farming areas of Ghana, have resulted in massive decreases in the yields of cocoa being harvested. Both human-induced greenhouse gas emissions and the recurring El Niño weather pattern are responsible for this extreme climate warming, with fears of severe droughts becoming a new norm for farming communities in the region. 




 Illustration: Holly Ward


Due to the shortage of cocoa beans being harvested and the continued demand for chocolate by confectionary companies, sourcing, production, and manufacturing costs naturally rise. This has led to ‘shrinkflation’ where companies reduce the size of products and raise prices to ensure they keep on profiting. The Swiss luxury chocolate brand Lindt revealed that the cost of their raw ingredients has risen by nearly 114 per cent and therefore Lindt faces “no choice” but to raise the price of their products. The fact that weather patterns in West Africa have the power to affect multinational corporations is proof of the climate crisis’ truly global nature. It also leaves us as consumers entangled in a web of complex global supply chains, unknown to most of us when we scan our cards to pay for Easter chocolates.


However, truly feeling the impact of these changing weather patterns are West African farming and agricultural communities that sell cocoa to large international companies. Around two million smallholder farmers along the cocoa belt rely on cocoa production. Many communities are forced to relocate to higher altitude regions to avoid getting trapped in the relentless heatwave. Coupled with the spread of a fungal infection called black pod, which leads to the rotting of cocoa beans, farmers are struggling to keep up with global production demands. Their livelihoods, food, and financial security are at risk as temperatures continue to rise and the climate crisis continues to amplify.

 

So, when browsing the supermarket, it can be easy to forget the tumultuous journey that Easter eggs have endured to end up fully stocked in our aisles. Ending up as a perfectly packaged bag of goodness, it hides the backstory of an ongoing climate crisis that threatens livelihoods and security. ‘Eggflation’ may be a technical economic term that can be studied in a classroom or lecture theatre, but it has a real human impact on communities and people around the world.

42 views0 comments

Opmerkingen


bottom of page