Here's a look at current views and projections of prices and supply and demand factors for corn, wheat, sugar, cocoa, orange juice and coffee -- and how recent price increases have impacted the major food companies.
Cocoa Christian of CPM Group said on the demand side, cocoa is just modestly higher. At the same time though, there have been some supply concerns driven by political problems in the Cote d'Ivoire, West Africa, the largest producing country of cocoa. These political issues have led to a one-month export ban on Cote d'Ivoire cocoa as pressure is applied to the government to force the president to step down. "There's an ill ease in the cocoa market because of the political risks within Cote d'Ivoire. And that has pushed the price up." Still, Christian noted that overall supply shouldn't experience any shock given that the current political situation doesn't' affect any of the cocoa that's already been licensed for export. In addition, cocoa exports in Cameroon and Ghana have likely been rising.
"Our expectation is that the price could actually come off some more, but stay relatively high." CPM Group predicts that cocoa prices will stay above $3,100 dollars a metric ton for the next week or so, at least.
PFGBEST's Rosenberg said Cote d'Ivoire's unrest has caused many cocoa farmers to flee the country in fear for their lives. Many of those Cocoa farmers had been trained and certified to farm cocoa by a Fairtrade training program, Rosenberg noted in a weekly report. "The training programs have been halted as well. This will leave the country's cocoa industry with a shortage of capable farmers. It could take three or more years for the number of certified farmers to reach its former level," he cautioned. Penn.-based Hershey, ( HSY) which is engaged in the manufacturing, marketing, selling and distribution of packaged chocolate and confectionery products, food and beverage enhancers, and gum and mint refreshment products, said it expects adjusted gross margins to be relatively flat year-over-year in 2011 despite "meaningfully higher input costs." The maker of Reese's, Twizzlers and Kit Kat confections brands said despite the higher ingredient costs, "productivity and cost savings initiatives are in place" and "we continue to leverage the global go-to-market capabilities we have built over the past few years."