LONDON -- Chocolate sales have hit an all-time high, taking a bite out of global cocoa supplies and driving up confection prices, according to research firm Euromonitor International. The cost of one kilogram (about 2.2 lbs.) of chocolate in the U.S. is expected to spike to a record $12.25 this year, up 45% from 2007, the London-based market researcher reported.
Chocolate sales volume will rise 6.2% to a record $117 billion next year, Euromonitor estimates. Global sales of chocolate confectionery rose 1.4% in 2012 and will grow 2% this year and next, the research firm predicts.
Market analysts anticipate that cocoa bean supplies will fall short of demand this year for the first time since 2010. Dry weather in West Africa, where 70% of cocoa beans are produced, is expected to result in a smaller-than-average harvest.
Additionally, Americans and Europeans are buying more dark chocolate, which often requires more cocoa beans per ounce than milk chocolate. Brazil and other emerging markets are consuming more chocolate, too.
This year, total U.S. chocolate consumption is expected to rise for the first time since 2008, Euromonitor said. It anticipates demand will climb in Western Europe for the fourth straight year.
Dark chocolate will account for 20% of the U.S. market for chocolate, up from 18% in 2008, according to Euromonitor. Switzerland, one of the world's biggest chocolate-consuming nations, saw the share of dark chocolate jump to 30% from 22% over the same period.
U.S. cocoa prices soared to a one-year high last week, and market analysts say a sustained move by money managers into cocoa futures will result in even higher chocolate prices.