Diet & Nutrition

Is the world running out of chocolate?

We certainly hope not. And Willy Wonka will be most unhappy.

According to the Washington Post, Mars and Barry Callebaut – two giant chocolate makers –have cautioned that cocoa deficits, whereby farmers produce less cocoa than the world eats, are becoming the norm.
Current data suggests that the world is in the midst of what could be the longest streak of consecutive chocolate deficits for more than 50 years and the shortage is only expected to grow.
In 2013 the world ate roughly 70,000 metric tons more cocoa than it produced and by 2020 that shortage could swell to 1 million metric tons and in 2030 that deficit could hit a whopping 2 million metric tons.
The issue with chocolate supplies has been put down to number of factors. Dry weather in West Africa has cut cocoa production in the region and the International Cocoa Organisation says a nasty fungal disease known as 'frosty pod' has been blamed for wiping out between 30 – 40 per cent of global cocoa productions. Also because of the agricultural challenges of growing cocoa many farmers have shifted to more resilient and less labour-intensive crops, like corn instead.
Also the global appetite for chocolate has proved insatiable with demand in markets like China growing rapidly and the rising popularity of dark chocolate, which contains more cocoa than traditional milk chocolate bars, is also putting strain on an already stretched supply.
Since 2012, the price of cocoa has increased more than 60 per cent, which has forced some chocolate makers to raise the prices of their products. Hershey's was the first and since then many others have followed suit.
To counter the shortage chocolatiers have turned to science to uptick efficiency and develop a new breed of cacao tree that can produce up to seven times as many beans as traditional cocoa trees can.
In northern Haiti there are about 600 cacao "supertrees," which reportedly produce 20 times as many cacao pods as normal trees. Experts say the product from these trees are "sweetly seductive rather than bitter, even in its natural form," according to NPR.
But Bloomberg's Mark Schatzker says the road to plenitude might see profits actually tumble with cacao modifications compromising quality.
"Efforts are under way to make chocolate cheap and abundant — in the process inadvertently rendering it as tasteless as today’s store-bought tomatoes, yet another food, along with chicken and strawberries, that went from flavourful to forgettable on the road to plenitude," wrote Schatzker.
So will the future of chocolate make it as expensive as truffles?
According to the Value Walk, John Mason of Nature Conservation Research Council in Ghana commented that "chocolate will be like caviar" in 20 years. According to him, chocolate will become so rare and expensive that the average punter will not be able to afford it.
So don't walk to your nearest vending machine… RUN!

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