Chocolate consumption is increasing faster than cocoa production, according to the Cocoa Research Association and that means prohibitively expensive chocolate in our future.
“Even before Choc Finger started hoarding it, cocoa prices have been on the rise, doubling in the past six years. The cacao plant can only be grown in latitudes within 10 degrees of the equator, but cacao farmers (largely in developing nations) lack incentives to re-plant their trees as they die off, according to a report in the Independent.
Competing efforts at chocolate giants Hershey and Mars Inc. have sequenced the cacao genome, which could improve efforts to breed more resilient, higher-yielding trees. But better chocolate plants will still have to compete for acreage with engineered corn, soybeans and even palm oil, which are used for biofuel as well as food. Those plants could help farmers reap greater rewards, according to Tony Lass, chairman of the Cocoa Research Association and a former Cadbury’s trader. [The Independent]
Small-scale growers earn just 80 cents a day, so they have little incentive to plant new trees when their older ones die. In addition to planting more lucrative crops like rubber, hordes of cacao growers are moving into cities to seek higher-paying work.
The result will be $11 chocolate bars. John Mason, executive director and founder of the Ghana-based Nature Conservation Research Council, says in 20 years, chocolate will be like caviar: “It will become so rare and so expensive that the average Joe just won’t be able to afford it.”
Now let’s talk about the factors contributing to the decline in the production of cocoa. Lack of Incentives is the leading cause. Farmers try their possible best to grow cocoa. They go through difficult times as most of them lack the tools needed to produce on a large scale. Most of the cocoa plants are also affected by pests. The pesticides even cost huge sums of money that farmers cannot afford. That is a problem in Ghana.
There is also the storage problem. Cocoa farmers have the perennial problem of storage that hasn’t been addressed. I once had a discussion with an uncle of mine who is a cocoa farmer. Because most of the farmers are illiterates, they are duped most of the time by the educated folks who work on the produce before they are exported. Most of the farmers feel cheated and depressed. If this trend doesn’t stop, then we are in for a shortage as reported.
“First helium now chocolate — seems like birthday parties in the future will be a lot less fun.”