Soaring cocoa and sugar prices are going to have an impact on the price of traditional Sinterklaas goodies, such as chocolate-coated pepernoten and chocolate letters, producers have said.
Chocolate letters will be between 10 and 15% more expensive this year, according to chocolate maker Droste. The increase comes on top of last year’s rise of around 10%. “We have no choice,” commercial director Bernard Brummelaar told broadcaster NOS. “We are paying 50% more for cocoa, our main ingredient, and 25% more for sugar.”
Droste increased its prices and unprecedented three times last year. “Every one of them was necessary. If we hadn’t done it we might as well have turned off the lights and gone home,” Brummelaar said.
Companies are also facing higher transport costs, and are paying more in wages, packaging and energy.
Cocoa is currently being sold at peak prices, ING economist Thijs Geijer told the broadcaster. “Prices are close to the last peak of 2011. Bad weather is having an effect on the harvest projection, which also influences the price,” he said.
More expensive cocoa and sugar will inevitably impact on the price of sweets, Oscar de Lange, owner of pepernoten maker Delft Biscuits said. De Lange produces 5.5 billion of the traditional bite size biscuits a year for the big supermarkets.
De Lange said his pepernoten will probably be some 20% more expensive and that means a kilo bag of chocolate-coated pepernoten could be as much as €5 or more.
Easter eggs too, broke through the €5 barrier this year, he said, and that did not influence sales. “It’s a matter of sentiment. Easter and Sinterklaas come but once a year, after all. Pepernoten are associated with family gatherings and nostalgia. People just want a bag of that,” he told the broadcaster.
Despite the emotional ties consumers have with Sinterklaas confectionary, there is a trend towards smaller bags and letters. “The higher the price, the more people tend to buy smaller bags. In principle, that is more expensive but it looks cheaper,” De Lange said.
Droste also offers a lighter chocolate letter – 100 grammes instead of 135 grammes. This is “not shrinkflation but simply a way to keep our products affordable for people who have less money,” Brummelaar said.
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