A number of festive chocolate boxes cost at least 50% more than a year ago in some of the worst inflation across grocery products, Which? has found.
While overall supermarket food and drink inflation slowed to 8.3% in November, price rises on chocolate as a food category were almost twice as much at 15.3%, according to the watchdog.
The increasing cost of key ingredients, including cocoa and sugar, have been largely to blame for prices of confectionery going up, with both commodities being hit by supply issues and poor production in the last 12 months.
At Asda, Green & Black’s Organic Classic Miniature Chocolate Bar Collection, 180g went from £3.59 on average in the three months to the end of November 2022 to £6 on average in the same period this year – an increase of 67.2%.
Which? also found Nestle’s Black Magic 348g and Dairy Box Medium Chocolate Box 326g were both £3.35 on average at Asda in the three months to the end of last November but had increased to an average of £5.25 this year – an increase of 56.6%.
At Tesco, Cadbury Mini Snowballs Chocolate Bag 80g, Cadbury Mini Snowballs Chocolate Bar 110g and Terry’s Chocolate Orange Minis Bag 125g all went from £1 on average last November to to £1.50 this November.
Meanwhile, at Sainsbury’s, Which? found that Quality Street Matchmakers Zingy Orange Chocolate Box 120g went from an average of £1.26 to £1.89 in the space of a year, an increase of 49.9%.
Which? said its figures included special offer prices but not multi-buys or loyalty discounts, arguing that the latter were only available to customers who were prepared to sign up to loyalty schemes – and not every consumer was able to do so.
Other chocolate treats were also subject to high inflation, the consumer group found, with Asda’s Snack Size Chocolate Caramel Chews (6x38g) increasing from an average 65p in 2022 to £1.35 on average in 2023, a hike of 107.7%.
Bolands Elite Chocolate Kimberley Teacakes 132g at Morrisons saw the average price hiked from £1.30 in the three months to the end of last November to £2.59 in the same period in 2023, an increase of 99.2%.
The discounters’ take on the Mars bar – Aldi’s Dairyfine Titan and Lidl’s Mister Choc Choco & Caramel Bars (both six packs) – both saw similar increases from 62p and 65p respectively on average in the three months to the end of November 2022 to £1.09 and £1.08 on average in the same period in 2023 – a rise of 75.8% and 66.8% respectively.
Despite the higher prices this year, both Cadbury owner Mondelez and Quality Street maker Nestle have reported an increase in sales this year as cash-strapped shoppers turn to more basic gifts and treats this Christmas.
Which? Retail editor Ele Clark said: “Festive selection boxes are one of the staples of Christmas, whether you’re buying a last-minute gift or sharing chocs with your loved ones in front of a classic seasonal film.
“We’ve seen large price hikes on some festive favourites this year, so to ensure they’re getting the best value for money on their Christmas chocs, shoppers should compare the price per gram across different pack sizes, retailers and brands.”
British Retail Consortium economist Harvir Dhillon said: “The continuing fall in food inflation is a clear sign of supermarkets’ efforts to deliver the best value they can for their customers.
“Food inflation has fallen significantly in recent months and many food retailers are introducing further discounts in the run up to Christmas as they seek to support their customers with the rising cost of living.
“Chocolate has been hard hit by soaring global cocoa prices, which have almost doubled over the last year, reaching a 46-year high. The cost of cocoa has been badly affected by poor harvests in parts of Africa.”
A Mondelez International spokesman said: “We understand the ongoing challenges faced by shoppers in the current economic climate which is why we look to absorb costs wherever we can.
“However, we are continuing to incur significant increases in input costs across our supply chain which has meant we occasionally have to make difficult decisions, such as slightly increasing the price of some of our products.
“We have carefully considered the approach we take across our product portfolio in the UK to ensure we continue to make the best quality products at the best value prices.”
Nestle said: “Like every manufacturer, we have faced significant increases in the cost of raw materials, energy, packaging and transportation, making it more expensive to manufacture our products.
“We are doing everything we can to manage these costs in the short-term, but in order to maintain the highest standards of quality, it is sometimes necessary to make minor adjustments to the weights of our products. We also aim to make any long-term changes to prices gradually and responsibly.”
A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said: “While prices can go up and down for a range of reasons, we’re committed to offering our customers the best possible value. We have invested millions into keeping prices low on the products we know our customers buy most often and the cost of these items have stayed well below the headline rate of inflation.
“The vast majority of our customers are members of Nectar and have the opportunity to benefit from a range of savings, including with Quality Street Matchmakers Zingy Orange Chocolate Box which are available for just £1.25 with Nectar Prices.”
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