Demand for the key ingredient that makes chocolate chip cookies and other chocolaty holiday favorites continues to be on the increase.
However, the supply is not meeting the demand, partly because of a continuing drought in major cocoa-producing countries in Africa and Asia. Cocoa demand is expected to exceed the supply by 150,000 tons for the season, which began in October, Bloomberg News reported.
In turn, the price of cocoa per metric ton increased by 14.2 percent between Dec. 8, 2014, and Dec. 8, 2015, according to the International Cocoa Organization's daily price average of New York and London futures.
The three top cocoa exporters are the Ivory Coast or Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia.
Drought conditions have gripped all three nations, according to the Global Drought Monitor.
"Indonesia and Malaysia are in a severe drought, and little overall improvement is expected through at least early spring," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls said. "The drought in these areas has led to wildfires and severe smoke and smog issues."
Areas from Ivory Coast and Ghana to Nigeria are in a minor to moderate drought, Nicholls said.
"The ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone) has done its seasonal shift south, so these areas are entering their seasonally dry period," he said. "Therefore, no significant drought relief is expected in western Africa through February or March. Some indications suggests a wetter pattern and perhaps drought improvement starting mid- to late-spring."
The cost of consumer chocolates is already higher as a result of the drought impacts. The Hershey Co. cited increased cocoa prices in 2014 as a reason behind its 8 percent price increase for its products.
Ghana has experienced some improvement in weather conditions, which may help the nation produce a small surplus of cocoa for the 2015-16 growing season, according to the Business & Financial Times newspaper in Ghana.