As a chocolate lover, there’s no shortage of different candy bars and desserts to enjoy.
From cakes to donuts to a simple candy bar, chocolate is everywhere.
However, you may find that buying chocolate can sometimes come with an expensive price.
Considering that some candy bars can be quite small, you may wonder why chocolate is so expensive.
Why Is Chocolate So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
The average price of a standard chocolate bar is $2.
However, certain brands and specialties of chocolate can cost $8 or more per bar.
Certain factors like high demand for chocolate, dwindling cocoa supply, and specialty versions of chocolate can all influence the price.
Let’s look at these factors in more detail.
1. High Demand
There’s no question that there’s always a high demand for chocolate.
Chocolate is a sweet dessert that releases endorphins in the brain.
Endorphins are essentially the “feel good” hormones.
They give your brain a sense of pleasure which, in turn, makes you feel good.
Since human brains pursue pleasurable experiences, they give you a positive reward for consuming chocolate.
This leads to higher demand because almost everyone wants to experience that pleasurable reward.
It doesn’t hurt that chocolate also tastes good.
However, the fact that there’s high demand for chocolate also means its price tends to increase from time to time.
There’s always a high demand for chocolate, but there are also situations where demand might be higher than supply.
When this occurs, the price of chocolate greatly increases.
Chocolate follows the rules of basic economics just like any other product.
When supply is low and demand is high, the price of the product increases.
Since there’s always some level of demand for chocolate, the price also always tends to be on the higher side.
Chocolate is expensive because of the high demand for it.
2. Decreasing Cacao Supply
Since demand is only half of the equation, it’s also important to look at the available supply of cacao.
To make chocolate, chocolatiers need cacao.
The problem with cacao is that its population is starting to decline.
The cacao plant requires very specific conditions to grow.
That’s already a problem since it limits how many countries can grow cacao in large quantities.
The other problem is that the areas that grow cacao are experiencing severe environmental problems brought on by climate change.
Whether it’s drastic weather changes or an increase in diseases, cacao plants are starting to perish.
Without the cacao plant, there isn’t going to be any chocolate.
This impacts the price of chocolate because its supply decreases.
With demand as high as ever, the lack of supply of cacao means that fewer chocolate products are being made.
Chocolatiers have to increase their prices to mitigate demand.
While scientists are working on making new species of cocoa that can withstand temperature changes, there’s still some progress that they need to make.
In the meantime, as cacao plants dwindle in number, the price of chocolate increases.
3. Luxury Chocolate
In the world of chocolate, you have a large number of selections.
You have cheap chocolate, and you have luxury chocolate.
There is a substantial difference in cacao quality and flavor between cheap chocolate and luxury chocolate.
Luxury chocolate tends to be smoother, more flavorful, and have a satisfying texture.
It’s rich and decadent.
However, luxury chocolate is also significantly more expensive than cheaper versions of chocolate.
It’s more expensive for a few reasons.
The first comes down to cacao quality.
Luxury chocolate focuses on using high-quality cacao ingredients.
This, alone, makes the price more expensive.
Since the supply of cacao is starting to dwindle, chocolatiers have to pay even more money for high-quality cacao.
The rarer cacao becomes, the more expensive high-quality cacao is also going to become.
Since that costs them more money, they have to increase the price of their chocolate bars to offset their costs.
Packaging is also usually involved in the price.
Luxury chocolate can come in ornate packages that are more art than just packaging material.
The brand name certainly plays a factor, too.
Chocolate is expensive when it’s from a luxury brand.
4. Labor Costs
Making chocolate is also relatively expensive.
To harvest cacao, farmers have to cut into the plant first.
Then they need to remove the pod.
From there, they have to cut into the pod carefully to find the wet cacao beans used to make chocolate.
It isn’t as simple as pulling out the beans from the ground.
They have to cut twice and carefully, too, to ensure they don’t cut into the beans.
Because harvesting cacao beans requires some skill and strength, farmers have to pay their workers a decent wage.
At the very least, it requires more work than other types of plants.
Since it’s more work, it’s more expensive to harvest.
Once the cacao beans leave the farm, they then need to go to the factory to make chocolate.
This requires more time and more ingredients per the formula that the chocolatier uses.
That adds more costs to the production of chocolate.
Since all these factors cost money, the chocolatier has to sell their chocolate at higher prices.
Those who sell high-quality chocolate have even higher prices since making their chocolate is even more labor-intensive.
Chocolate is expensive because of the labor costs associated with harvesting cacao beans and the production of chocolate.
5. Long Cacao Tree Growth Process
Another problem that makes chocolate expensive is the length of time it takes for cacao trees to grow.
While cacao trees don’t grow to be too tall, they still take several years before they start producing cacao pods.
It takes about five years for a cacao tree to mature.
At that point, it will start producing cacao pods worth selling.
That’s a long time before new farmers can make any kind of money.
As such, they often sell their harvests for quite a bit of money when their trees first start producing sellable pods.
They have a lot of debt that they need to cover with their harvests.
While farmers usually also plant a few other crops to help pay the bills, they likely took on some debt to buy the necessary land, tools, and seeds to grow cacao.
As such, they need to cover those debts as soon as possible.
This also means that when a disease destroys a tree or a whole grove, it takes a farmer a long time to recover.
That recovery is expensive, so they have to sell their cacao pods at higher prices to cover those expenses.
Chocolate is expensive because it takes a long time for cacao trees to mature.
6. Milk Costs
Some chocolatiers also use milk in their chocolate bars.
Milk is a useful ingredient since it helps make chocolate sweeter and creamier.
However, milk can also make chocolate expensive on occasion.
In particular, when milk prices increase, then the price of each chocolate bar also increases.
Milk prices tend to remain stable, but that hasn’t been true in recent years.
Whether it’s lingering ripples from COVID-19 or climate change, certain problems are making the price of milk increase.
Drought, for example, is impacting the price of feed.
When farmers have smaller yields of feed due to the damage done by drought, they have to sell what feed they have at higher prices.
Farmers buy that feed at a higher price which impacts their own costs.
When they sell milk and milk products from their cows, they need to do so at higher prices to offset their own costs.
Extreme temperature changes have also impacted agriculture.
It’s become more expensive to both water and feed livestock.
As a result, animal products are more expensive.
Chocolatiers need to pay more for milk to use in their chocolate.
To make up for their costs, they sell their chocolate bars at higher prices.
Chocolate is expensive when the price of milk is expensive.
7. Holiday Demand
At certain times of the year, the price of chocolate is higher than normal.
That tends to occur around certain holidays.
Some of the most expensive times to buy chocolate are Halloween and Valentine’s Day.
That’s because there’s a particular interest in chocolate during those times.
Halloween is all about trick-or-treating and acquiring vast amounts of candy.
If you’re not receiving chocolate, then you’re often the one handing it out.
Either way, people need to buy a lot of chocolate to be able to provide something for all the trick-or-treaters coming to their doors.
Valentine’s Day is another popular holiday in which people buy chocolate.
Since chocolate is sweet, it goes well with the sweet-themed holiday.
Couples often buy each other various forms of chocolate candies.
Chocolate is more expensive during those times because there’s a heightened demand for chocolate.
It isn’t just casual chocolate eaters buying chocolate anymore.
Practically everyone is trying to get their hands on chocolate.
Since there’s only so much chocolate available, it makes the price of chocolate considerably more expensive.
Chocolate is expensive when you buy it during certain holidays.
8. Higher Cacao Content
There’s a difference between milk chocolate and dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate tends to have higher cacao content than milk chocolate.
When milk prices aren’t high, milk chocolate tends to be cheaper.
That’s because chocolatiers can get away with using less cacao by substituting it with milk.
Cacao, itself, is quite expensive.
Since it’s not always available in large supply, the more a chocolatier uses, the more expensive the bar of chocolate becomes.
That’s why you’ll often find that dark chocolate tends to be more expensive than milk chocolate.
Chocolate is expensive when it has a high cacao content.
9. Artisanal Chocolate
When browsing the store shelves of your grocery store, you might sometimes across a brand of chocolate that labels itself as artisanal.
You’ll also find that artisanal chocolate tends to be more expensive than some brands.
That’s because artisanal carries with it the idea that the chocolate is of premium quality.
The chocolatier does something to their chocolate that puts it on a whole different level.
Artisanal can also sometimes be a marketing ploy.
However, whether the chocolate is premium or not, if you see a bar that claims it’s artisanal, you can usually expect it to be more on the expensive side.
10. High Sugar Prices
A final reason chocolate is expensive is that it’s also impacted by sugar prices.
To make chocolate sweet and enjoyable, chocolatiers add a certain amount of sugar into their vats.
The problem with sugar is that its price can also increase.
Whether it’s a disease, climate change, hurricanes, or some other factor, if something impacts the price of sugar, then the price of chocolate is also going to change.
That’s because chocolatiers are taking on more costs to make their chocolate.
Chocolate is expensive when the price of sugar is high.
Chocolate is a delectable treat that the human brain enjoys.
However, certain ingredient price fluctuations and the dwindling supply of cacao can make chocolate quite expensive.