(Bloomberg) -- Cocoa futures have doubled in less than three months as their landmark surge intensifies, putting the focus back on expensive chocolate costs ahead of Easter.

The most-active contract in New York rose as much as 5.9% to $8,493 a metric ton, the highest on record, before paring some gains later in the day. 

While manufacturers buy beans months ahead of time, the rally is beginning to bite, boosting costs for consumers and sending chocolate makers scouring for supply. Some bars are getting more expensive, smaller or filled with other flavors to blunt the impact.

“There are lots of players who have already announced price increases. We are also part of that group,” Martin Hug, chief financial officer at chocolate maker Lindt & Spruengli AG, said on a March earnings call. “It is very difficult to predict at the moment what will happen with the cocoa market. But I think we have controlled it as well as we can.”

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Pricier chocolate is bad news for consumers who are turning to sweets to celebrate Easter. Nearly 90% of US consumers said they would purchase candy this year for the holiday, according to a National Retail Federation survey. Total candy spending — including chocolate — is estimated at $3.1 billion, the second highest in available data.

Cocoa costs are expected to stay higher for longer as crops in West Africa — the heavyweight growing region — have been battered by diseases and a series of weather extremes, putting the world on track for a third straight supply deficit. 

There is “still no visibility on the next crop,” which begins in the fall, said Fuad Mohammed Abubakar, head of Ghana Cocoa Marketing Company UK Ltd. “The challenge for Ivory Coast and Ghana is no one knows how they can address their production issues. There is no supply rescue in the next few months.”

A below-normal pace of deliveries to ports in top grower Ivory Coast has continued to propel prices upward, and looming environmental regulations for European importers are adding to the hurdles for sourcing beans. Citi Research analysts have previously said prices could reach as high as $10,000 a ton and remain elevated until the second half of 2025.

Processing plants are already suffering from shutdowns. That should lead to “some significant deterioration” in data on cocoa grindings to be released next month, but it’s still unclear “how much deterioration will satisfy the market and lead to a sustained drawback” in prices, said John Goodwin, a senior commodity analyst at ArrowStream Inc.

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