US confectioners Hershey Foods and Mars have both announced increases in the wholesale prices of their US chocolate bars as a result of rising costs of cocoa and other commodities.

Hershey said yesterday [Wednesday] that it had implemented a rise in the wholesale price of its domestic standard size, king size, variety pack, 6-pack and 10-pack line effective 1 January 2003. The increase in price of standard size bars will be 10.8%, while smaller increases on other products translate into an approximate 3% rise over its entire domestic product line. The company said it was the first price change it had made on it standard size bars since 1996.

Earlier in the day, the second-largest US chocolate maker, Mars, confirmed that its Masterfoods USA unit had increased the wholesale prices of its single M&M packs, Snickers and other chocolate bars by around 10% starting from Monday.

The price hikes follow a sharp increase in the price of cocoa of more than 70% since the end of 2001. The rise in cocoa prices is in part due to political unrest in the Ivory Coast, a major cocoa producer, reported Reuters.