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Soaring cocoa prices could turn chocolate into a 'luxury' item

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 7:00 PM -

Demand in emerging markets is pushing the price of coca to near-record highs -- sparking fears that chocolate could become a luxury item that many will not be able to afford.

In China, demand for the sweet treat has tripled since 2010, helping to drive coca futures up 10 percent this year.

In 2013, prices rose by 20 percent.

To make matters worse, forecasters are calling for drier-than-usual conditions in west Africa, where 70 percent of the world's cocoa is grown.

RELATED: Airlines sour on serving lines as citrus prices skyrocket

Industry watchers say the unfavourable weather conditions could put a dent in production and push prices even higher. 

It's a scenario that has left some chocolate producers scrambling for cheaper ingredients.

If prices continue to rise, some producers may be forced to substitute pricey cocoa butter for palm or cotton seed oil -- but that could have a negative impact on the taste.

"Going forward it could be that chocolate becomes, in Europe, a bit like Champagne. Something which is a luxury, but not all of us can afford," Edward George, head of soft commodities at Ecobank told CNBC News.

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