With the Ivory Coast and Ghana supplying 60 per cent of the world’s cocoa, many fear that the deadly Ebola virus could hamper the cocoa supply and send bean prices soaring.
“It might double up the cocoa prices because they won’t be able to get the beans out of Ghana and the Ivory Coast. It might be a big problem as it (Ebola) is right at their doorstep but let’s hope it’s not going to happen,” said Marc Geldhof, chief executive officer of the South African based Geldhof Chocolatier.
(READ MORE: Ebola shrinks West Africa's poorest economies )
He explained that if prices were to increase, not only would chocolate producers lose many customers, but their packaging and advertising would be reduced and many companies could inject more vegetable fat into their chocolates to make up for the lack of cocoa, compromising on their products’ original taste.
In the South African market, chocolate prices have already increased significantly due to the hike in the rand/US Dollar exchange rate over the past several years. Geldhof believes that many consumers would not accept another big price adjustment.
(READ MORE: Ghana to raise cocoa price high enough to stop smuggling)
Another concern is the announcement made by the Ivory Coast government on Monday that regulations in its cocoa sector will be tightened for the 2014/2015 season.
According to Reuters, the new measures include a cap on the amount of beans exporters are allowed to purchase during the October to March main crop harvest, restrictions on the prices they are allowed to pay and limits on how long merchants can stock beans.
(READ MORE: W.Africa's cocoa industry awaits rebound)