MARIETTA - For Jimi Sell, 54, of Belpre, a world without chocolate is an unhappy place to be.
However, recent media reports about the rising cost of chocolate and cocoa butter, one of chocolate's key ingredients, doesn't have her worried.
"I don't care," said Sell, one of the faithful customers at Putnam Chocolate in downtown Marietta. "It's one of those things you always have. You always have money for chocolate. It's one of the four food groups."
Shane Danford, owner of Putnam Chocolate in downtown Marietta, wraps dark chocolate cashew clusters Wednesday at the store. (Photo by Phil Foreman)
For the second straight year, retailers are reporting record sales of the tasty treat. That means the demand for cocoa continues to rise, but the bean supply is short, according to bloomberg.com.
Bloomberg.com also reports the demand for cocoa beans will jump 3 percent to 5 percent in 2013-14. Sales of cocoa beans for future delivery rose to their highest level in almost a year on Sept. 5 in London. In Europe, the cost of cocoa butter relative to beans jumped to the highest since 2008 in August. The method used to determine prices for chocolate is called "butter ratio" in the industry.
Shane Danford, owner of Putnam Chocolate, 288 Front St., said he hasn't heard much lately about rising prices.Fact Box
Danford, 48, who has owned the downtown Marietta shop for 19 years, said what used to cost him $7 to $8 per pound now costs him $10 to $12 per pound.
"The price of materials has gone up," Danford said. "Paper products have been a huge increase."
Most of the time, when he sees his costs rising, more than anything, it involves the cost of fuel, he said.
In a market with tightening supplies and demand that keeps rising during the holidays, consumers might see chocolate prices go up around the Christmas season or even early 2014, reported some national media outlets.
Danford said most of the time people who deal in cocoa commodities set a contract for a year and that they already have their supplies. He also said he would expect some price adjustment later in the year.
"We've had people stop here who live out of state and say how cheap our prices are," said Stephanie Starkey, 46, of Marietta. She is Danford's sister and works at the shop.
Danford said despite any price increase, the need for chocolate will not go away.
"People are still coming in for their fix," he said. "That's one of the things we noticed during the recession. It's that little luxury you'd still give up a dollar for."
The average price for a piece of chocolate at Putnam Chocolate runs from 66 to 88 cents.
Dagmar Kupsche, 55, owner of The Cook's Shop, 180 Front St., said chocolatiers such as Danford will see any increase in prices because he is buying such large quantities.
"It might be a year out before I see it," she said.
However, Kupsche said she carries chocolates from Scharffen Berger that is 99 percent cacao. A 9.7-ounce bar is about $10 at her store.