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Chocolate Easter bunnies leaped from Pennsylvania Dutch ingenuity, hobbled by inflation in 2024 | 通货膨胀和气候变化推高巧克力价格 美国今年复活节巧克力兔销量“遇冷”




Credit first-generation German-American Robert Lincoln Strohecker, known in confectioner’s lore as the "Father of the Chocolate Easter Bunny."





The source of Strohecker’s legend was a massive 5-foot-tall (or perhaps even taller) solid chocolate rabbit he displayed outside Pennsylvania retailers in 1890 to popularize smaller versions of his new Easter sweets born of German tradition.




Strohecker's chocolate Easter bunny sales gimmick was an instant sensation. Americans purchase about 90 million Easter bunnies each year, according to WalletHub.




The chocolate Easter bunny business he inspired, however, is being crippled by inflation here in 2024.




Cocoa futures have doubled just since the start of 2024, according to industry data, after soaring 60% in 2023.




Rising costs, including on energy and transportation, are being met by lower supplies.




The International Cocoa Organization reported last month that cocoa production is down 11% this year, citing poor weather conditions in West Africa, which produces two-thirds of the world's crop.




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.




Sugar prices are also rising. Futures for a pound of sugar are up about 8% in 2024, after rising 2.7% in 2023.




Big chocolate companies like Hershey's and Cadbury maker Mondelez have been passing those costs on to consumers — and then some: Hershey's net profit margins ticked higher to 16.7% in 2023 from 15.8% in 2022. Mondelez reported a jump to 13.8% in 2023 from 8.6% in 2022.




Hershey raised prices on chocolate overall last year as inflation surged and said it increased prices on some grocery items early in 2024.




Both companies reported shrinking sales volumes for their most recent quarters as consumers grow tired of paying higher food prices.




Chocolate giant Hershey witnessed a 6.6% decline in sales volume in the fourth quarter of 2023 and announced job cuts in February.




Here in the United States, the National Retail Federation expects spending on chocolate Easter eggs and bunnies to drop from $3.3 billion in 2023 to $3.1 billion in 2024 — a potential 6% decrease. Its latest survey shows that consumers are expected to spend $3.1 billion on candy for Easter this year, or $24.78 per person. That's down from $3.3 billion, or $26.31 per person a year ago.




"Whatever is going on in the world, people don't give up shopping for chocolate," said Maegan Dec, president of Hilliard's Chocolates, a 100-year-old, family-owned business in Easton, Massachusetts.




She said business this year remains unaffected, citing loyal customers seeking artisan chocolates. But the prospect of long-term rising costs and dwindling supplies is "scary."



Source: China Daily

Editor: Lai Yingying

Senior Editor: Pang Bo