Chocolate prices and spring break for college students have something in common  – they're both sky-high. Just last Friday, cocoa futures hit a staggering $8,939 per metric ton, setting new records. That's a hefty 12% surge from the previous week and a jaw-dropping 205% leap from this time last year.

And with Easter just around the corner, the impact of these skyrocketing cocoa prices hits even closer to home. Putting together Easter baskets is going to be more expensive this year, as chocolate prices continue to soar. So, while families in North Dakota and beyond celebrate the holiday, they'll likely feel the pinch when it comes to indulging in their favorite chocolate treats.

Get ready for the bitter truth, especially for chocolate lovers in North Dakota: there's no sign of relief on the horizon. Cocoa, that beloved ingredient that makes chocolate oh-so-delicious, has been on a relentless upward trend since mid-2022, and experts predict it's only going to keep climbing.

Here's what's happening:

About 70% of the world's cocoa beans come from four West African countries – Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon. But what does that have to do with North Dakota? Well, as cocoa prices soar globally, it impacts chocolate lovers everywhere, including in the Peace Garden State.

But here's where it gets sticky – the weather. Intense rains followed by dry spells and winds have made life tough for cocoa farmers in West Africa. Throw pests and diseases into the mix, and you've got a recipe for disaster.

This combination of weather challenges and pesky pests has led to cocoa harvests falling short for the third year in a row. And what does that mean for North Dakotans? Well, it means chocolate prices are likely to keep climbing.

The numbers don't lie either. The International Cocoa Organization predicts a shortfall of a whopping 374,000 tons this season, a stark increase from last season's 74,000-ton deficit.

So, brace yourselves, North Dakotans, for even pricier chocolate treats. US chocolate prices have already shot up by 11.6% in 2023 compared to the year before, and big names like Hershey's and Mondelez, the folks behind Cadbury, aren't sugar-coating it – they're warning that prices will climb even higher, affecting chocolate lovers across the state and world-wide.

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Gallery Credit: Meg Dowdy

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