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Saskatoon chocolate shop prepares for Easter amid looming price jump

With the arrival of Easter, chocolate enthusiasts have been looking forward to indulging in the sweet treat.

For Julianna Tan, chocolatier and owner of Those Girls at the Market in Saskatoon, she almost couldn’t keep up with demand heading into the long weekend.

“We pretty much sold out of our pre-orders, so I’m kind of at my capacity,” Tan said. “This year went very well.”

While the chocolate side of her business is seeing success, she can’t help but have some concerns over rising prices.

A February report by agriculture-focused co-operative bank CoBank said cocoa prices were nearly 65-per cent higher than a year ago, and New York futures prices were at a 46-year high.

The surge is attributed to several factors, including plant disease in Africa, and heavy rains disrupting the supply chain.

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“The confection business is going to bear the brunt of the margin impact due to cocoa,” Hershey chief financial officer Steven Voskuil told analysts on a conference call in February.

Tan said business is always a roller coaster, full of constant challenges, but this one does make her nervous.

“Whether it’s the economy, whether it’s rising prices, or it’s the pandemic, there’s always going to be something and this is just another one of those things we’re facing as business people,” Tan explained.

Although the price spike hasn’t quite hit the business yet, she is preparing for a serious price jump when it comes to raw ingredients.

“We do have to think quite seriously about how we’re going to pivot moving forward,” Tan said. “Especially at the tail end of this year is when we’re really going to see those price increases impact business for us.”

But there is a silver lining, as this gives Tan an opportunity to think outside of the chocolate box.

So far, she has been experimenting with adding frozen dried fruits into her confectioneries.

“It’s just a phase right now where we’re trying to be creative and think about how we can still focus on chocolate, but maybe use it in a different way moving forward.”

So while a spike looms large for Tan and other local chocolate shops, finding creative ways around a challenging situation may seem like the best recipe for success moving forward.

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