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Bakeries hit as cocoa prices soar

Most chocolatiers told Metrolife that the price rise hasn’t dented their customer base.
Last Updated : 27 June 2024, 21:13 IST

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Your favourite chocolate cake has become costlier and cookies less chocolatey. Bakeries and patisseries in Bengaluru are reeling under the global cocoa shortage and steep price rise since March.

From premium brands to artisanal shops and home bakers, many have revised the prices of their chocolate offerings. Some are working on new recipes that use less imported chocolate and more nuts and fruits. Many are reducing the portion size.

This meltdown is caused by a drop in yield in West African countries, Ghana and Ivory Coast, where 60% of the world’s cacao beans come from. The harvest has failed three years in a row. Some bakeries have put up messages on social media and their outlets, letting customers know the reason behind the price hike.

Rate revision

Bingling Bakes, a home enterprise in Electronics City, has raised the price of its chocolate products by 12-13%. Owner C Bhaavya says, “Up until recently, I was absorbing the hit my profit margins were taking, instead of passing on the price burden to customers. But when I had to turn down 5-6 chocolate cake orders, I realised I had to consider revising prices.”

Last August, she was buying 2 kg cocoa powder at Rs 820. Now she is paying Rs 2,260 for the same quantity. The price of 1 kg dark chocolate has increased from Rs 440 to Rs 670 since December. She is paying Rs 24 more for every batch of milk chocolate.

Glen Williams, owner of Sweet Chariot and Glen’s Bakehouse, says “they had no choice” but to hike the prices of their chocolate products. “The black forest cake has gone up by 8-10 per cent and chocolate truffle cake by 14-15 per cent. It depends on the amount of cocoa used,” he shares.

Most chocolatiers told Metrolife that the price rise hasn’t dented their customer base.

“We are in a good industry. People will never stop buying chocolate,” says Uma Raju, co-partner at Chocolate Philosophy. The artisanal
brand, located off Lavelle Road, has increased their rates by 15 per cent
Diversify menu

Bhaavya has 15 kilos of chocolate-related raw material in stock and she is using it judiciously. She informs her customers she will add fewer chocolate chunks in her brownies if they do not want to pay more. She is also asking them to try her new non-chocolate offerings — mango cake, rasmalai cake, and lotus biscoff cake.

Bakeree, a small-batch bakery in Richards Town, has introduced pistachio cake and is working on more non-chocolate-centric products. Owner Rhea Devaney says the strategy is to use chocolate as an element rather than a hero ingredient. But since there is no way to skimp on chocolate in products like cookies, she has increased its price by 13 per cent.

Uthishta Kumar Cake Design, a home enterprise in Jayanagar, is focussing on seasonal flavours like lychees, peaches and mangoes, in addition to hiking the cost of their core chocolate menu by 5 per cent. Lavonne, with multiple outlets in the city, is not mulling price revision. They may bring down chocolate treats on their dessert menu to 40 per cent, cofounder Vinesh Johny says of their plans.

Smaller portions

Chocolate Philosophy is cutting down grammage while retaining the prices. “We are thinking of making 80 gm moulds in place of 100 gm moulds,” says co-partner Nivedita Prasad. To cut down their dependence on Swiss and Belgian chocolate further, they plan to use chocolate more in ganache or for dipping rather than as a core ingredient.

The pack size of premium chocolate products by Smoor may come down from 80 gm to 50-60 gm. There may be slightly less chocolate and more nuts in every bite of fudge, cookies and praline. “It’s a work in progress,” says Kanchan Achpal, chief marketing officer.

Time for Indian cocoa

The global shortage has got chocolatiers looking at homegrown cacao seriously.

Cafe Plume in Domlur is using Indian cocoa for 90 per cent of their dessert menu, which includes chocolate tart, chocolate orange cake, and chocolate eclair. “We made the switch over a month ago,” says owner Aurelie Lalande. Nivedita’s brand has a vertical of bean-to-bar chocolates from Tulunadu and is now looking to source from other regions.

Patricia Cosma is cofounder of The Indian Cacao & Craft Chocolate Festival. She feels the homegrown chocolate scene will finally emerge from “ghost mode”. “New pockets of cacao farming have developed in Kerala, Tulunadu, and West Godavari. Even the north-east is experimenting. Not to forget, Indian cacao farming is sustainable. It is grown as an intercrop, not a mono crop as in Africa.”

Why the shortage?

Drought conditions attributed to climate change, heavy rainfall and diseases are said to have contributed to the decline in cacao production in West Africa, leading to a near shutdown of processing plants in Ivory Coast and Ghana. Local farmers are further suffering from high inflation and currency devaluation.

According to the International Cocoa Organization, cocoa prices hit an all-time high of nearly $10,000 per metric ton in March.

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Published 27 June 2024, 21:13 IST

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