Why are chocolate and olive oil more expensive? – 03/29/2024 – Deborah Bizarria

Why are chocolate and olive oil more expensive?  – 03/29/2024 – Deborah Bizarria


The celebration of Easter in Brazil this year is likely to suffer from increases in the price of two traditional components of this festival, chocolate and olive oil.

This increase in price is not an isolated phenomenon, but the result of global events that have directly affected production and, consequently, the cost to the final consumer.

Initially, it is essential to understand the reasons why chocolate, one of the most beloved items of this period, in the shape of an egg, is becoming considerably more expensive.

The rise in cocoa prices, which began in the second half of 2022 and doubled until January 2024, reaching a historic peak, casts a shadow over the chocolate industry and aficionado consumers.

Large companies such as Hershey and Mondelez International, owner of Cadbury, passed these costs on to buyers last year, directly affecting the final price of the products.

Adverse weather patterns are partially responsible for this situation. Cocoa production, concentrated in the hands of small farmers in West Africa, especially in Ghana and Ivory Coast, was devastated by unusual temperatures and high rainfall, followed by a severe drought brought on by El Niño.

These extreme weather conditions, in addition to diseases such as witches’ broom virus and black rot, have seriously damaged crops.

At the same time, olive oil, a delicacy that usually accompanies cod on Easter tables, experienced a dramatic increase in prices, reaching record levels.

The growing demand, driven by the popularization of the Mediterranean diet and its recognized health benefits, encountered an obstacle in the climatic adversities that plague the main producing regions.

Spain, Italy and Greece, responsible for most of the world’s production, face prolonged heat waves and droughts, which have significantly compromised the harvest. The situation has been worsened by rising fertilizer costs and restrictive export measures by countries such as Turkey, exacerbating supply shortages and putting further pressure on prices.

The effects of these increases are palpable. It is possible to observe both a direct increase in the prices of final products as well as a reduction in portion sizes — it is not just an impression, chocolate bars and boxes have actually become smaller.

“Reduction” ends up being a strategy adopted by several companies to avoid losing consumers due to rising prices. Although, in Brazil, brands are required to inform the change on the packaging itself, a rushed or inattentive buyer may not realize that they are paying more.

Another strategy that companies have adopted, and which requires consumer vigilance, involves reducing the quality of products.

With regard to chocolate, this practice is manifested by the use of a smaller amount of cocoa, complemented by the addition of vegetable fat and artificial flavors.

Similarly, in the case of olive oil, dilution with soybean oil and the use of artificial flavorings are observed. These changes, although they do not violate specific regulations, highlight the importance of carefully reading the ingredients listed on packaging before purchasing.

Given this context, this exciting Easter celebration challenges our ability to adapt and innovate. Regardless of each person’s ability to absorb price adjustments or seek viable alternatives, the core of the celebration remains unchanged: the value of sharing meaningful moments with family and friends.

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