For Dark Chocolate, Rising Costs Mean Waning Sales

Is dark chocolate's heyday over? For the candy industry, the numbers have been bittersweet: dark chocolate has experienced a huge surge in sales over the last couple of years, but research indicates that its popularity may have already peaked.

In recent years, chocolate connoisseurs has touted dark varieties as a delicacy with as much complexity in flavor as fine wine or cheese. Between 2007 and 2008, dark chocolate sales jumped 35 percent, a huge increase when compared to sales of other chocolate, which only increased 1.5 percent.
But rising demand for the chocolate, which has a high level of cocoa solids, caused the price of cocoa beans to skyrocket — by 46 percent in the last six months. Costly materials have meant soaring prices for consumers, and between 2008 and 2009, dark chocolate sales decreased by 2.2 percent.

Market analysts are predicting dark chocolate sales will continue to decline. Said commodities analyst Judith Ganes-Chase, "It's a bubble that's going to burst. You have a combination of recession plus high prices. I just don't see how consumption can't drop sharply."

Given the indefinite length of this struggling economy, I could see the analyst's point. Come to think of it, I saw more milk chocolate at this year's San Francisco Chocolate Salon. What do you think of the news? Have you stopped buying costly dark chocolate?

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