About 70 percent of Americans will give chocolate or candy to their Valentine on Tuesday, and it could be cheaper this year thanks to booming cocoa supplies.
Buying your sweetheart a box of Valentine’s Day chocolates could be cheaper this year thanks to booming cocoa supplies.
Growers are collecting bigger harvests in Latin America and in West Africa, which accounts for about 70 percent of global production. The output gains have pushed cocoa futures to the lowest since 2008, which is starting to translate into cheaper confections.
That’s good news for romantics, since a survey by the Washington-based National Confectioners Association found that 70 percent of Americans will give chocolate or candy to their Valentine. The goodies will probably stay cheap even beyond the Tuesday holiday as investors make a record bet that cocoa prices will keep slumping.
“Production is going to be much higher, and that’s why prices are falling,” said Donald Selkin, the New York-based chief market strategist at Newbridge Securities. Cocoa prices fell 33 percent in the past year, touching an eight-year low of $1,921 a metric ton Monday.
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After dry weather hurt West African crops last season, growing conditions have improved and supplies rebounded, with stockpiles jumping 38 percent since reaching the lowest since 2009 in December. UBS Group and Citigroup are both projecting that global production will outstrip use this year as harvests expand.
The supply gains have come amid slowing demand. Global chocolate sales dropped 2.3 percent in the three months through November, said Barry Callebaut, the world’s top cocoa processor.
Even though people are eating less chocolate in favor of healthier options, they’re a bit more likely to throw caution to the wind when it comes to Valentine’s Day.
Americans are expected to spend about $1.7 billion on candy for Tuesday’s holiday, according to the Washington-based National Retail Federation, about the same as last year’s estimate.
When more of the lower costs start to show up at the check-out aisle, that could help chocolate demand rebound and ease the global surplus. “The lower prices will incentivize demand at some point in the next six months,” especially ahead of Halloween and Christmas, holidays which “tend to push demand,’’ said Carlos Mera Arzeno, a London-based commodity analyst for Rabobank International. “We are getting close to the bottom here.”