The world’s largest chocolate producer has warned that we are coming to the end of days as we know it. There is no easy way to say this. We’re eating too much chocolate.
The world’s two largest chocolate manufacturers are saying that, not only are we eating so much that we soon run short, but we will run out sooner due to our eating habits. This information comes from Mars, Inc. and Barry Callebaut, and worryingly they have data to back them up.
Chocolate deficits, where farmers produce less cocoa than the world eats, are becoming the norm each year. We are already in the midst of what could be the longest streak of consecutive chocolate deficits in more than 50 years. The horrifying fact for chocoholics everywhere however is that, the industry has warned that the deficit is starting to get wider.
Last year, the world ate roughly 70,000 metric tons more cocoa than it produced, by 2020; the two chocolate-makers warn that that number could swell to 1 million metric tons. They are also worried that in 16 years’ time we will have increased that figure again to 2 million metric tons of cocoa deficit.
This world altering problem has come about because of the dry weather in West Africa, more specifically the Ivory Coast and Ghana, where more than 70 percent of the world’s cocoa is produced, and thus people are moving away from this African coast.
A virus which targets cocoa, Moniliophthora roreri or frosty pod, has also exacerbated the problem. The International Cocoa Organization, yes such an organisation exists, has given estimate suggesting that between 30 percent and 40 percent of global cocoa production has been wiped out because of the virus. These problems have all coincided forcing farmers out of the cocoa market and into a more stable crop such as corn.
There is also a truly massive demand for the product; the Chinese are buying more and more chocolate each year. Still, they only consume per capita about 5 percent of what the average Western European eats. There has also been an increasing demand for dark chocolate which contains more cocoa than its milk or light chocolate counterparts.
For these reasons, cocoa prices have climbed by more than 60 percent since 2012, when people started eating more chocolate than the world could produce. Chocolate makers have, in turn, been forced to adjust by raising the price of their bars and cocoa products.
Naturally the world has reacted accordingly, specifically, an agricultural research group in Central Africa is developing trees that can produce up to seven times the amount of beans traditional cocoa trees can. This increased productivity may however be compromising taste. Mark Schatzker, from Bloomburg, likens the trade off to other mass-produced commodities. “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.”
This is a call to all of you to consider eating less dark chocolate. Will you be able to live with yourself if your children can not taste the glory that is an advent calendar or the wonder of their first Easter egg? For the future generations we must preserve our chocolate.