In the run-up to Easter Sunday experts are predicting that future Easter celebrations might be ruined by the soaring cost of chocolate, which could make the treat an "unaffordable luxury" for many.
A combination of soaring demand for chocolate in China and emerging markets and dwindling supply from the cocoa agriculture sector mean that world supplies of chocolate are not expected to keep pace with demand over the next decade.
Experts warn that if the price continues to rise at the current rate, and nothing is done to boost production in cocoa-exporting countries – this will lead to a shortage.
Next Easter chocolate eggs could be smaller and more expensive, or made with palm oil, cotton seed oil or cheaper cocoa butter equivalents as manufacturers cut their costs.
The International Cocoa Organisation estimates that this year there could be a 115,000-tonne deficit of cocoa beans. The beans are processed to make cocoa butter and powder, which are used in the manufacture of chocolate. In December the same organisation warned global cocoa companies were heading towards the biggest production shortfall in more than 50 years.
The decline has driven up the price of cocoa beans, which has risen from $2,680 a tonne in January to $3,031 at the end of March – nearly a three-year high. Prices are rising because of strong demand in Asia, in particular in China.
At the same time supply from West African countries – which supply 70% of the world's cocoa beans – has fallen as younger people shun agriculture and farming to pursue better paying urban jobs instead. Cocoa producers also fear West African countries will be hit hard by global weather patterns like El Nino, which will also have an impact on cocoa crops.
Edward George, head of agricultural commodities at the pan-African firm Ecobank, told CNBC: "Going forward it could be that chocolate becomes . . . a bit like champagne. Something which is a luxury, but not all of us can afford."