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By Alissa Green
It’s been a traumatic couple years for chocolate lovers. First, there was the Hershey/Cadbury uproar, when Cadbury Egg lovers balked at Hershey changing Cadbury’s beloved recipe for higher profits.
Now, it looks like there are deeper issues -- with cocoa farming as a whole.
According to The Wall Street Journal, there’s less available cocoa (the raw material used to make chocolate bunnies and eggs) than ever before, a result of poor farming techniques and bad weather. Other baking ingredients have also been affected by El Nino’s off-kilter weather patterns; the price of sugar is on the raise as is the price of palm oil, which increased by nearly 17% this year.
Meanwhile, demand for chocolate is at an all-time high as more developing nations acquire its taste. Last year, Hershey estimated that chocolate sales in China could grow to $4.3 billion by 2019, which would be an increase of nearly 60% from 2014.
The Swiss still eat the most chocolate per-person though, with people buying around 20 pounds per person each year (!). Americans eat roughly half that amount, but since there are more of us, we account for about 18% of all chocolate consumed globally.
The increasing price of chocolate is a classic supply-and-demand issue; as a result, it’s leading to an overall 40% price increase for cocoa beans as a commodity. Thankfully, that increase hasn’t fully been passed on to consumers – yet.
Halloween candy from Lindt, Nestle and Hershey’s in 2015 only went up by 4.2%. Though, you’ve also likely started to see smaller sized bars, which also keep the price down. But it may just be a matter of time before our wallets feel the pinch of an upset stomach unless something’s done.
And, incredibly, there may be worse news yet to come: Mars and fellow chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut estimate there could be global shortages as soon as 2020 if nothing’s done. So, your favorite chocolate manufacturers have committed $1 billion to work to improve cocoa farming through sustainable farming and research.
What can you do in the meantime? Personally, I’m certainly not above stock-piling! But, in all seriousness though, there’s not much we can do at the moment. Letting your favorite chocolatier know that you support their efforts to avoid a global chocolate meltdown in future years couldn’t hurt. But one would think they’re predominately motivated by their bottom line.
Alissa Green is the Digital Marketing Manager at Alliant. She has 10+ years experience writing/blogging and has written for Jezebel, The Onion, MyFirstApartment.com, and MyFirstCondo.com amongst other sites. The best piece of financial advice she’s gotten was from her mother, who says one should never try to beat the market (thanks, mom!). In her spare time, you can find Alissa enjoying the local comedy scene, exploring different Chicago neighborhoods, supporting the Chicago Humanities Festival and reading up on FinTech.