Everyone enjoys chocolate, and that seems to be a growing issue for the world as a combination of problems, including the fact we’re eating too much of the stuff, means we’re running out. In fact, since 2012 we’ve been eating more chocolate than cocoa is produced by farmers.
The biggest problem comes from a diminishing supply of cocoa. This is because the major producer of cocoa — West Africa, has been suffering very dry weather meaning diminished crops. Add to that frosty pod fungal disease (Moniliophthora roreri), which devastates crops, and production has dropped by as much as 40 percent. So difficult is cocoa production at the moment that farmers are choosing to grow other crops instead, which again means less is being produced.
Right now we’re eating around 70,000 metric tons more cocoa than we produce every year, but that number is growing and is expected to hit 1 million tons by 2020 and 2 million by 2030. The huge increases aren’t just down to lower production, though. China is eating a lot more chocolate and dark chocolate is becoming ever more popular (dark chocolate uses more cocoa).
In the short term the result of these combined factors is increasingly higher prices for a bar of chocolate, but long term it means the taste of chocolate could actually change. Why is that? Because agricultural researchers are developing a new type of cocoa tree that yields 7x the number of beans, but it is expected the taste will be impacted negatively because of this. So while chocolate could be produced in much greater quantities using this new tree, it will require more artificial taste ingredients to get it as close to the old chocolate taste we all love today… see more