Is a potential chocolate shortage for real?
Based on the latest news from the Chocolate Industry, we should start worrying about a future lack of cacao. 2020 is the year when the World is predicted to run out of chocolate and be forced to turn to other pleasures in life to satisfy sweet cravings. The media are dedicating at least one article a week to the subject with worrying predictions. But what are the reasons behind such alarming announcements?
Based on the latest articles on the matter, I collected for you the TOP 5 reasons why everybody is freaking out about a potential chocolate shortage.
1) Adverse weather conditions in West Africa.
Countries like Ivory Coast and Ghana, which together account for more than 70% of the world cocoa production, have been suffering for the past years of an increasingly dry weather that is diminishing their production capacity. A weather too dry for a continuous period of time is not only a threat to the cacao trees that need a certain level of humidity to survive, but also to the well-being of the farmers that have to struggle with water and food shortages. A global weather phenomenon called El Nino is expected to hit West Africa this year.
2) Frosty pod rot. A mass of fungi that macerates the plant’s tissues and eats the inside and outside of cocoa pods, leaving them a total loss. Once confined to the northwest South America region, the disease is now in an invasive phase and has spread all over the Latin American region. It has ruined a third of the world’s cocoa crop. Plant pathologists are working hard to find a solution to this disease.
3) Growing demand. Despite an extraordinary surplus of 40,000 tonnes in 2013/14, demand outstripping supply is becoming the industry norm, with farmers producing less cocoa than the world eats. As suggested by the world’s biggest chocolate makers, this deficit is expected to reach 1m tonnes by 2020, and could hit 2m tonnes by 2030. The world is eating more and more chocolate every year, with a growing demand from asian countries, especially China. Global chocolate demand is expected to rise by 30% by 2020, putting an incredible pressure on the production side.
4) Cocoa farmers are switching to more profitable businesses. Dry weather conditions and crop diseases have wiped out between 30 percent and 40 percent of global cocoa production. Cocoa farming has therefore proved to be such a tough and unstable business that many farmers have already abandoned the field to switch to more profitable businesses, like corn.
5) Dark chocolate popularity is increasing. In the past years, consumers have become more aware of the benefits of dark chocolate and are rapidly shifting their preference from milk chocolate to its healthier option. This resulted in an incredible growth of dark chocolate sales around the world. For example, dark chocolate now accounts for 20% of the US chocolate market and 30% of the Swiss chocolate market. However, an higher content of cacao in chocolate also means an higher demand for cacao, that contributes even more to the unbalance between supply and demand.
On one side, I do believe we are slowly running out of cocoa, like we are slowly running out of pretty much every natural resource on planet Earth. On the other side, I would like to remind everybody to take into consideration where these alarming announcements are coming from. Chocolate companies, together with cocoa trading companies and any other company that has big money invested in the industry, surely have their own agenda to either create panic or suppress panic.
Therefore, we shall keep ourselves updated on the most recent news from the industry and listen to different sources, keeping in mind the lucrative interests of each part involved.
Do YOU believe in a potential chocolate shortage?
I did NOT get paid and did NOT receive any kind of favor for writing this article. These are my honest opinions at your service.