How The Weather In Africa Is Affecting Your Easter Bunny Money

Written by Dana Sanchez

Drought hurt the harvest in West Africa’s cocoa-producing countries, causing a shortfall that helped push up the price of cocoa, which means you’re paying 10 percent more this year for your chocolate Easter bunnies than last, CNNMoney reported.

West Africa produces more than 60 percent of cocoa globally. Ivory Coast is the world’s top producer. Ghana is No. 2. Between August and October — key months in the cocoa-growing cycle — Ghana saw its lowest rainfall since 1999, CNN reported.

On top of that, the dry, dusty winds from the Sahara Desert arrived a month early, blocking sunlight and lowering temperatures. The Harmattan winds usually blow between December and March.

Some relief from the drought may be on the way in parts of Africa, where heavier-than-average rainfall is expected in the upcoming season beginning in April. It is uncertain if this will benefit the cocoa-growing countries — or the price of chocolate.

The International Cocoa Organization expects a 113,000 tonne global production shortfall in the 2015-2016 season. Citigroup expects cocoa to trade at historically high prices this year, CNN reported.

The milk chocolate index is up 10 percent compared to Easter 2016, according to data from U.K.-based data company Mintec, which provides global pricing information for commodities and raw materials.

Cocoa powder has seen a 26 percent rise, cocoa butter went up 19 percent and sugar has risen 15 percent, according to the milk chocolate index, FinancialTimes reported. Products made from the cocoa bean include sugar, whey powder, whole milk powder and cocoa powder and butter.

Rising demand for chocolate in Asia helped push up prices of cocoa. Asia Pacific is expected to consume more cocoa ingredients than North America by 2017, global research firm Euromonitor reported.

Chocolate makers like U.S.-based Mondelez and Hershey’s, and Switzerland-based Lindt and Nestle, have been increasing prices steadily, making bars smaller or raising sticker prices. All announced raising wholesale prices in the last two years.

Some drought relief is expected in April for parts of Africa.

South Africa’s National Weather Service said on Thursday the country could get heavier-than-usual rainfall in the autumn season, BusinessInsider reported.

That will be too late to benefit the dried-up summer maize crop. In 2015 South Africa had its driest year on record with record high temperatures in January as the El Nino weather pattern damaged the corn crop — a staple food in South Africa.

In its rolling monthly forecast, which looks five months ahead, the South African Weather Service said that most models show the effects of El Nino gradually decreasing, BusinessInsider reported.