The World Is Running Out of Chocolate

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( — November 17, 2014)  — Last year alone the world consumed roughly 70,000 metric tons more cocoa than it produced. Chocolate producers estimate the demand will exceed 1 million metric tons by 2020, and 2 million metric tons by 2030.

More than 70 percent of the world’s cocoa is produced in Western Africa, more precise the Ivory Coast and Ghana. Dry weather, however, has greatly decreased production in the region. The International Cocoa Organization estimates that up to 40 percent less of the global cocoa production. As a result, majority affected cocoa producing companies shifted to more reliable crops, like corn.

Greatest concern for the world’s largest chocolate-making companies like Mars, is the growing appetite for chocolate in China. Nonetheless, they only consume about 5 percent of what the average Western European eats per capita.

In addition, there is a lot more demand for black chocolate, which has 60 percent more cocoa than regular chocolate. This led to increase of cocoa prices by 60 percent since 2012, further forcing the chocolate manufacturers to raise the prices of their products.

Efforts to counter the growing imbalance between the amount of chocolate the world demands and the amount farmers can produce has inspired a bit of much-needed innovation.

Agricultural giants offered genetically altered cocoa trees that can produce 7 times more cocoa. These trees are already been planted in Central Africa.

However, the taste of that cocoa is different, which also affect the market, says Bloomberg’s Mark Schatzker.

It is unclear though if consumers will mind a milder flavor if it keeps prices down. The industry certainly will not mind, so long as it keeps the stores full.

Experts fear, however, that cocoa will join other consumable products which, through the practice of genetic engineering, suffered a decrease in flavor intensity, like today’s store-bought tomatoes, strawberries and even chicken.

In the years to come, we may witness a birth of a ‘new’ chocolate made of organic cocoa.