Belgium’s renowned chocolatiers grapple with soaring cocoa prices

By Alessandro Ford | 04/01/2024 06:14 AM EDT

Life for Flemish confectioners is becoming an increasingly expensive box of chocolates.

Illustration picture shows Nehaus chocolate eggs in a chocolate store in Brussels, Thursday 09 April 2020.

When probed by POLITICO most Belgium chocolate-makers noted the industry had already been forced to contend with a post-pandemic demand surge. Thierry Roge/Belga Mag/AFP via Getty Images

BRUSSELS — You famously never know what you’re going to get when you open a box of chocolates. But for Belgium, a state that’s synonymous with the high-end confectionery, soaring cocoa prices are making life for the nation’s chocolate aficionados even more uncertain than usual.

This year, after extreme weather hammered western Africa’s cocoa harvest for the third consecutive year, prices soared in response. Cocoa futures trading in London and New York temporarily hit as high as €9,300 ($10,038) per ton, triple last year’s amount.

The gaping shortage of beans has percolated its way through to Europe’s premier confectionery hub, putting chocolate-makers under unprecedented cost pressure and forcing up prices just as seasonal demand peaked going into the Easter holiday.


But while there’s no doubt chocolatiers are perturbed by the crisis, for now, a sense of stoicism prevails in the industry linked to the presumption that chocolate addicts are far less price sensitive than conventional consumers.