Cocoa hoarder

20 July 2010

Down with monopolists and hoarders! This was the rallying cry for the food rioters in the past, and it is possibly the case in the present. Apparently a hedge fund has bought around 7% of the world’s annual cocoa production, and that almost equates to the entire physical stock of cocoa currently in Europe. There are fears that chocolate, a source of comfort for many in tough times, may become dearer in the future. Like any other commodity, a speculator is purchasing cocoa not in the hope of eating or drinking it all, but for making a tidy profit. Since the fund concerned has a pretty large share of the available cocoa, it could drive the price up, by careful management of the stock, and restricting how much cocoa goes into circulation.

The prices may not go up, and consumers may not feel the rise in prices, because confectionery manufacturers are likely to absorb the increase in the cost of raw materials, but the chocolate will nevertheless taste somewhat bitterer, knowing who has profited from it: a fat cat with a sweet tooth.