Chocoholics – you might want to sit down for this.
The world is at risk of running out of chocolate.
Yes, you read that correctly. There is a stark discrepancy between the amount of chocolate we are producing and that which we are eating. Simply put – we are eating too much. Last year alone, demand for chocolate outpaced supply by 70,000 tons.
Mars, Inc. and Barry Callebaut AG, two of the world’s most grandiose chocolate manufacturers, have just announced the inconceivable: we are facing a chocolate deficit.
“The global cocoa sector may suffer a 1 million metric ton shortfall by 2020 because of increasing economic and environmental pressure on cocoa farms around the world” – Barry Callebaut AG
It should not be a surprise that what is occurring in the world of chocolate is, in large part, due to climate change. Drought and disease exist as a colossal threat to cacao plantations all around the globe.
Here’s what is going on. Warmer temperatures intensify the dry seasons and cause water-shortage. As you might suspect, this has a catastrophic effect on cacao-growing areas.
70% of the world’s cocoa is produced in the Ivory Coast and Ghana – where dry weather has been especially plentiful – causing a massive plunge in production. To make matters worse, according to the International Cocoa Organization (yes, such an organization exists), a fungal disease called “frosty pod” has wiped out approximately 35% of the global cocoa production.
Farmers have quickly realized that they may no longer be able to make a living growing cacao plants, and many have switched to more productive plants such as corn and rubber.
Climate change may be the largest problem, but it’s not the only problem. The world’s appetite for chocolate has increased tremendously over the last decade. If fingers must be pointed, we can thank China for augmenting the price of chocolate. Chinese consumers have more than doubled chocolate purchases over the last decade. But, let’s not kid ourselves – America and Western Europe come in close second. A lesser known fact is that increased popularity for dark chocolate also plays a role as dark chocolate bars contain more cacao by volume than milk chocolate bars.
You might be wondering how there could possibly still be chocolate in the grocery stores if we are consuming more than we are producing. Simple. We are using excess harvests from previous years to fill the gap. The danger lies in the high probability risk that this gap narrows tighter and tighter until chocolate disappears…for good.
We may be forced to succumb to skittles and sour patch kids.
In the interim, you can expect a significant increase in prices. Bloomberg recently estimated an upsurge in prices of 14% over the next year alone. Keep this in mind as you notice your favorite chocolate bars getting smaller and smaller.
You might want to stock up now. Everyone else is.