• Price Increase FAQ

    by Joanna Brennan June 17, 2024 6 min read

    Price Increase FAQ

    How much have Pump Street Chocolate prices gone up? Why now?

    As of July 1st, 2024 the retail price of our standard 70g bar of chocolate will change from £6.75 to either £7.45, £7.95 or £8.95. Similar price increases are in place across our full product range. 

    This is the first price increase we have implemented since May 2022, and previous to that we had not done a product-wide increase in 7 years. We have done our best to absorb cost increases and have been able to increase our efficiency of production to offset some of these, but recent changes have been so significant that we are no longer able to absorb them. 

    Food price inflation has been running above 10% for the majority of the two years since we implemented our last change, and those increases are evident in our costs too. These were already causing pressure on us, and this pressure has only been exacerbated by the recent dramatic price increase in the cost of cocoa beans.

    Why are some bars now priced differently to other bars?

    This is not the first time we have had tiered pricing for our bars – when we first brought out limited edition bars, they were at a higher price, as we had very few, and they were more expensive to make.

    Essentially, that is the same reason for our return to tiered prices for our bars. With some chocolates, the combination of the price of the beans we use, or the cost of the ingredients coming from our bakery, nuts or other inclusions make them more expensive to make. Paired with the added time to make these bars, it is important that we reflect this in the price. At the same time, with a few less involved chocolates that we buy beans for, and make, in slightly bigger quantities, we have been able to keep the price increase to a minimum.

    In the future, we hope that this new pricing structure will mean we are able to buy more rare, interesting cocoa and bring out small lots and limited editions more often, with an understanding that they may cost more due to the time and cost involved in making these most exceptional chocolates.

    How have recent cost increases affected us at Pump Street?

    The costs that have increased in the last two years, that have instigated this change, are primarily those of ingredients, including cocoa beans, and pay for our team. 

    We buy all of our ingredients at the most economical scale possible while still working hard to meet our high quality standards. We have seen the price of our cane sugar increase 40% in the last two years, while milk powder has gone up 15% on average.

    By working directly with farmers, and as we have always paid high above the commodity price of cocoa, we have up until now not been impacted by market fluctuations in cocoa. Naturally, the farms we work with have seen their costs rise and we are committed to paying them what they need in order to maintain and nurture both their teams, and the cacao they grow. Therefore the price we paid for cocoa, including transport, had increased on average 12% across the farms we work with over the past two years until December 2023. In the intervening period, the meteoric increase in the price of commodity cocoa has brought greater costs to anyone buying cocoa. The current futures price is amongst the highest prices we have ever seen for cocoa beans, and is causing significant change well beyond the 12% we were already having to cover.

    Logistics prices continue to impact us, with increases in the cost of getting chocolate to our customers across the UK. The cost of fulfilling orders to our wholesale customers and on our online shop have both increased due to higher prices for all types of large letter, small parcel and courier options with Royal Mail and our courier partners.

    As committed Real Living Wage employers, we have abided by the minimum wage set by the agency, which is above the National Living Wage, and which has increased by a minimum of 10% a year over the past two years, in response to inflationary pressures.

    Tell me more about why the cocoa price globally changed recently, and what is the impact on Pump Street? 

    Cocoa beans are a commodity that is traded on markets and bought and sold in futures. They have a “commodity price” – a price of contracts to buy cocoa beans in the future. The commodity price of cocoa more than doubled in the first three months of 2024, from about $4000 USD a ton to $8000 USD a tonne, and has oscillated between $9,000 and $12,000 USD a tonne since.

    As noted earlier, the commodity price has previously been rather unrelated to the price we pay, as we trade directly with farmers or sometimes with specialist agents who are able to support us with access and logistics – but this unprecedented movement in the wider commodity cocoa market, and the shortages that started it, have begun to impact the specialist cocoa market that we work with. 

    Commodity grade cocoa is often low quality and not traceable. But as the commodity price has gone up due to low supply, buyers are scrambling to buy enough cocoa for big, industrial chocolate making companies, and they are turning to “specialist” traceable, organic and fairtrade cocoa sources to make up the shortfall. This has begun to impact us, with cost increases due to the now higher value of the beans we are buying on the open market, but also will likely reduce our access to the volume of beans we need to buy over the next twelve months. The predictions of yield for the next harvest in the main cocoa growing countries of Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire, that will start to be shared in the summer, will determine how prolonged the scarcity in the commodity market might be, and how the commodity price might move over the next six months or so.

    Of course we welcome a shift in the global price of chocolate, and this is something we have been trying to lead by example for years. However, we would like this to be origin-driven, and to benefit those who need it most – the growers. Shifts in the commodity market don’t always translate to more money going to growers, at least not in the short term.

    Why does Pump Street Chocolate cost more than other chocolate bars? 

    It is important to us that we adhere to our strict quality and ethical standards, and those costs are reflected in our chocolate bars. 

    This is the true cost of chocolate that is made using a transparent, ethical and sustainable supply chain. We leave value in the country of origin by paying farmers as equals in business with us, able to take home a fair wage and give the same to their team members, and to maintain their land and trees in environmentally responsible ways. 

    We want to ensure we have a congruously positive impact in Suffolk by creating good, fairly paid jobs here. We are constantly investing in our team, not just increasing wages to meet the strict standards of the Real Living Wage as a minimum, but also investing in training and professional development and other policies to benefit the team.

    Ultimately, we know that our chocolate is amongst the more expensive bars you can buy, and there are many cheaper, industrially made chocolates available. But cutting corners to make cheaper chocolate would do a disservice to the movement for higher quality, higher welfare cacao practices around the world, and we would like to advocate for an approach that reduces over-consumption and increases enjoyment and appreciation of fine flavour chocolate.

    There are chocolates marketed as “slave-free” - a recent addition - or Fairtrade which has been in circulation for many years; both make claims regarding the ethics of their cocoa purchasing. Both are well-intentioned initiatives, and have their own impact, and I am grateful for the increased awareness they have fostered in the inequalities that exist in the cocoa trade. But it is important that we remain aware that while working at the scale of industrial chocolate, it is impossible to have a truly transparent supply chain and slavery, child labour and poverty-perpetuating labour practices and prices will persist. (For more information –we discuss this topic in more depth in our exploration of What is Craft Chocolate?)

    We aim to provide chocolate which is as clearly traceable, honest and ethical as it is delicious. We thank you for supporting us in our endeavours.

    Joanna Brennan

    Director and Co-Founder

    Pump Street Bakery and Pump Street Chocolate