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It’s a bittersweet Easter for chocolate lovers and African cocoa farmers but big brands see profits

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ACCRA, Ghana — Shoppers may get a bitter surprise in their Easter baskets this year. Chocolate eggs and bunnies are more expensive than ever as changing climate patterns eat into global cocoa supplies and the earnings of farmers in West Africa.

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About three-quarters of the world’s cocoa — the main ingredient in chocolate — are produced on cacao trees in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Cameroon. But dusty seasonal winds from the Sahara were severe in recent months, blocking out the sunlight needed for bean pods to grow. The season prior, heavy rainfall spread a rotting disease.

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With exports from the Ivory Coast, the world’s top producer, down by a third in recent months, the global price of cocoa has risen sharply. Cocoa futures have already doubled this year, trading at a record high of more than $10,000 per metric ton in New York on Tuesday after rising more than 60% the previous year. Farmers who harvest cacao beans say the increases aren’t enough to cover their lower yields and higher production costs.

Yet the high Easter demand for chocolate carries a potential treat for big confectionery companies. Major global makers in Europe and the United States have more than passed on the rise in cocoa prices to consumers. Net profit margins at The Hershey Company increased to 16.7% in 2023 from 15.8% in 2022. Mondelez International, which owns the Toblerone and Cadbury brands, reported a jump to 13.8% in 2023 from 8.6% the year before.

“It is likely consumers will see a price spike on chocolate candy this Easter,” Wells Fargo said in a report this month.

Mondelez said it raised chocolate prices up to 15% last year and would consider additional price hikes to help meet 2024 revenue growth forecasts. “Pricing is clearly a key component of this plan,” Chief Financial Officer Luca Zaramella said in January. “Its contribution will be a little bit less than we have seen in 2023, but it is higher than an average year.”

Hershey’s also raised prices on its products last year and has not ruled out making further increases. “Given where cocoa prices are, we will be using every tool in our toolbox, including pricing, as a way to manage the business,” Hershey Chairman, President and CEO Michele Buck said during a conference call with investors last month.

Consumer groups are keeping track. In the United Kingdom, British consumer research and services company Which? found that chocolate Easter eggs and bunnies from popular brands like Lindt and Toblerone cost about 50% more this year. It said some candy eggs were smaller, too.

Cocoa is traded on a regulated, global market. Farmers sell to local dealers or processing plants, who then sell cocoa products to global chocolate companies. Prices are set up to a year in advance. Many farmers blame climate change for their poor crops. Cacao trees only grow close to the equator and are especially sensitive to changes in weather.

“The harmattan was severe at the time the pods were supposed to develop,” Fiifi Boafo, a spokesperson at the Ghana Cocoa Board, said, referring to the cool trade winds that carry enough dust to block out the sunlight needed for the trees to flower and produce beans.

Months of rain also are being blamed for black pod disease, a fungal infection that thrives in cooler, wet and cloudy weather, and causes pods to rot and harden.

“While we have a good price today, that’s not it. The cacao hasn’t even produced any ,” Eloi Gnakomene, a cacao farmer in Ivory Coast, said last month. “People say that we’ve had a bit, but those living over that way, they’ve had nothing.”

Opanin Kofi Tutu, a cacoa farmer in the eastern Ghana town of Suhum, said the shortfall in production coupled with higher fertilizer costs are making it difficult to survive. “The exchange rate to the dollar is killing us,” he said.

Chocolate isn’t even one of the traditions Tutu associates with Easter. “I am looking forward to my wife’s kotomir and plantain, not chocolates,” he said, referring to a local sauce prepared with cocoyam leaves.

To help increase production, authorities are promoting education on farming methods that might mitigate the effects of climate change, such as the use of irrigation systems. The president of Ghana also has promised to step in to help farmers get a better deal.

“With the current trend of the world cocoa price, cocoa farmers can be sure that I will do right by them in the next cocoa season,” President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said last month.

The National Retail Federation, an American trade association, expects spending this Easter to remain high by historical standards despite rising candy prices. Its latest survey showed that consumers were expected to spend $3.1 billion on chocolate eggs and bunnies and other sweets this Easter, down from $3.3 billion a year ago.

In Switzerland, home to the world’s biggest consumers of chocolate per capita, domestic consumption melted slightly last year, falling by 1% to 10.9kg per person, according to industry association Chocosuisse. It linked the dip to the rise in retail chocolate prices.

The nation’s signature chocolate maker, Lindt & Sprüngli, reported increased profitability, with margins rising to 15.6% from 15% a year earlier.

“Lindt & Sprüngli Group’s business model once again proved to be very successful in the financial year 2023,” it said in a statement this month, noting that prices increases accounted for most of the growth.

Yet some smaller businesses that sell chocolate are finding it hard to keep up with the spike in cocoa prices while their sales decline.

Sandrine Chocolates, a shop in London that sells handmade Belgian chocolates, is struggling to survive after decades in business. The owner, Niaz Mardan, said the U.K.’s cost-of-living crisis and weak economy leave people worrying more about food than luxury chocolate, especially when cheaper alternatives were available at big grocery stores.

She has let go of her two employees and relies on sales at Easter and Christmas to stay afloat. “Many, many times, I thought to close the shop, but because I love the shop, I don’t want to close it,” Mardan, 57, said. “But there is no profit at all.”

Donati reported from Dakar, Senegal. journalists Courtney Bonnell in London, Damian J. Troise in New York and Jamey Keaten in Geneva contributed reporting.

This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.



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Nikhil Kamath alerts investors on ‘hand-picked stocks’ WhatsApp scam: ‘Use common sense’

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Zerodha co-founder Nikhil Kamath informed investors that he has never had any WhatsApp group where he shares “hand-picked” stocks as advertised by a group. The group claims to assist people in picking the right stocks and Nikhil Kamath said that “this is obviously not from me” as he urged people to use a little “common sense”.

Zerodha co-founder Nikhil Kamath alerted investors about a scam on Whatsapp.
Zerodha co-founder Nikhil Kamath alerted investors about a scam on Whatsapp.

“Scam alert, this is obviously not from me, I have never had or have any WhatsApp groups, nor do I give tips etc. Please report these… Also to all the brands who reach out, I don’t do paid promotions/collaborations/ads/paid speaking engagements of any kind. Please stop spamming, and everyone use a little common sense please,” he said along with an image of the fake advertisement.

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What did the scam advertisement claim?

The scam advertisement showed that the WhatsApp group had details of stocks handpicked by Nikhil Kamath that would rise in April. The ad asked investors to join the WhatsApp group which would share their picks of reliable stocks every day as it said, “First 1,000 members get it for free.”

See Nikhil Kamath’s post here:

Earlier Nikhil Kamath advised fellow entrepreneurs in India to not open franchises of global brands in India but try to take Indian brands to the world.

He said, “To all my entrepreneur buddies, the future may be to take Indian brands global, not franchise global brands in India. The Indian narrative is getting cool globally, we have mystique, royalty, history, artisan, handmade, exotic, and so much more to sell.”

He added, “What was yesterday a garment manufactured in India called John, Peter and Louis something and marketed by western models, could be tom Subko, Hatti Kaapi, 11.11 etc sold in New York with the faces of Indian artisans who spent hours on each product individually.”



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RBI ban on Bank of Baroda World app: Finance ministry’s likely plan on frauds

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Union finance ministry may propose stricter measures to protect citizens from cyber fraud, it was reported. This comes after an increase in incidents of frauds, including the Bank of Baroda World app scam, the Times of India reported citing sources who “mentioned a recent inter-ministerial meeting focused on bolstering cybersecurity and tackling financial fraud”, it noted.

A security official walks past an emblem of the Reserve Bank of India at the RBI headquarters, in Mumbai.
A security official walks past an emblem of the Reserve Bank of India at the RBI headquarters, in Mumbai.

What was RBI’s action on Bank of Baroda World app?

In October 2023, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) stopped Bank of Baroda from onboarding new customers on its mobile app ‘BoB World’ citing material supervisory concerns. The bank said in response that it had already carried out corrective measures to address the concerns.

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“The Reserve Bank of India has, in exercise of its power, under Section 35A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, directed Bank of Baroda to suspend, with immediate effect, any further onboarding of their customers onto the ‘bob World’ mobile application,” RBI said in a statement.

“Any further onboarding of customers of the bank on the ‘bob World’ application will be subject to rectification of the deficiencies observed and strengthening of the related processes by the bank to the satisfaction of RBI,” it added.

What report said on steps Finance Ministry could take?

The report claimed that Finance ministry could be in support of stricter Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures and due diligence by banks and financial institutions while onboarding new merchants. This applies to Business Correspondents (BCs) as they may be more vulnerable to security breaches, as per the report.

Additionally, the ministry’s proposal also stresses on the need for improved data security and data protection practices at the merchant and Business Correspondents level. The report claimed that the RBI may ask banks to review concentration of Business Correspondents in areas with a high incidence of cyber fraud.



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Sakuma Exports shares to trade ex-rights today: Check price, allotment, ratio here

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Sakuma Exports rights issue 2024: The rights issue of Sakuma Exports Ltd will open on April 25 and will close on May 13. The rights issue record date is April 15 and the company will offer 78,984,298 equity shares at a price 25.3 per share. The issue size is 199.83 crores while the entitlement ratio is 33:98 which means 33 rights share for every 98 fully-paid equity shares held on the record date.

Sakuma Exports rights issue 2024: The rights issue record date is April 15 and the company will offer 78,984,298 equity shares at a price <span class=
Sakuma Exports rights issue 2024: The rights issue record date is April 15 and the company will offer 78,984,298 equity shares at a price 25.3 per share.

Sakuma Exports: What is rights issue?

In the rights issue, a company grants existing shareholders the right to buy new shares at a discount to the current trading price. The issue gives existing shareholders securities called rights while companies give shareholders a chance to increase their exposure to the stock at a discount price.

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Sakuma Exports: What to expect?

The Board of Directors of the company declared rights issue of equity shares for the eligible shareholders and said in a stock exchange filing that “the issue of 7,89,84,298 equity shares of face value of Re. 1 each (Equity Shares) to Eligible Equity Shareholders aggregating up to Rs. 19983.03 lakhs in accordance with applicable laws, including the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Issue of Capital and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2018, as amended (SEBI ICDR Regulations).”

“The Board of Directors, in accordance with Regulations 30 and Regulation 42 of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Listing Obligation and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015, as amended and Regulation 68 of the SEBI ICDR Regulations, at its meeting held today ie., April 8, 2024, has considered and approved April 15, 2024 as the record date for the purpose of determining the Eligible Equity Shareholders who are eligible to apply for the Rights Equity Shares, in the Issue (Record Date),” it added.



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