The cost of Thai curries could be set to soar as global events conspire to squeeze coconut supply and push up prices.
The European price of average desiccated coconut used in curries and cakes is up 116% year-on-year and currently stands at about £1,887 per tonne [Mintec].
The UK price of fine desiccated coconut is up by 126%, to £2,150 per tonne, and the EU Rotterdam coconut oil price is up 99% to £1,231.
Importers are warning of a serious shortage of canned coconut milk from Thailand after a beetle infestation last year, which caused prices to rise by as much as 50% since the end of last summer. "I asked our supplier yesterday how long it would be until the situation was rectified and his answer was 'four to five months'," said RH Amar chairman Henry Amar.
Importers are also seeing inflation on whole coconuts. "The market price is going up because there's not much volume coming out of Sri Lanka," said a spokesman at importer Minor, Weir and Willis.
Another importer said there were difficulties getting supplies from the Ivory Coast as a result of the civil war. "In addition, Sri Lanka's had some unusually wet weather and it's affecting rice and tea plantations, and might have some effect on coconuts, particularly the drying process for desiccated," said Mintec's Robert Miles.
A Mars spokeswoman said: "There is no immediate plan to increase the price of Bounty," but added that it was impossible to know how the situation might develop.
Saturday Essay: We must stop exploitation in the supply chain (2 April 2011)
Second Opinion: Food, war and nuclear meltdown (26 March 2011)
Cocoa price surges amid threat of Ivory Coast export ban (25 January 2011)