Climate change sparks concerns for chocolate's future

Scientists are warning climate change could affect the size and price of your chocolate Easter eggs.

Extreme weather in West Africa - which supplies more than 60 percent of the world's cocoa - has seen prices soar to record highs.

This decadent sweet treat could soon become a luxury item as cocoa prices soar.

"Unfortunately this month we've seen that, that price is now being passed on to us and therefore eventually it will result in a few price increases," said House of Chocolate sales manager Tori Connell.

Cocoa hit a record US$8653 (NZ$14,430) per metric tonne this week - a 200 percent increase on the same time last year.

And like many, this boutique chocolatier on Auckland's North Shore relies heavily on produce from West Africa.

"We have a great relationship with our supplier, we've been doing this for 25 years, so have been working alongside people for a very long time, and they've absorbed a lot of the increase up until now," Connell said.

Scientists say it's an ominous sign of climate change as extreme weather affects the fragile ecosystem cocoa needs to grow.

Torrential rain in December caused one West African farmer's crop to be blighted by fungus.

The damage done then is now being exacerbated by drought - with temperatures exceeding 40C last month.

"If we don't stop burning fossil fuels now and also invest in making cocoa plantations more resilient, chocolate will become much more of a luxury product," climate scientist Dr Fredi Otto warned.

In the spirit of Easter, House of Chocolate is absorbing the cost increase this year - but knows they'll have to innovate in the future if they're to keep the price of their handmade delicacies down.

"We're really working on new techniques and revised products that would allow us to, not pass on too much of a price increase for our customer," Connell said.

But not all companies will be able to sweeten the deal - a worrying sign for our wallets, but far more serious for the West African nations now confronting climate change.