I hope you got spoilt with an abundance of chocolate treats last weekend for Valentine’s Day, because it’s about to get a whole lot more expensive.
I don’t mean to alarm you, but we’re on the verge of a Genuine Worldwide Chocolate Deficit, with prices set to soar over the coming months and years thanks to a cacao shortage.
According to a report, Destruction by Chocolate, the average westerner consumes an average of 286 chocolate bars every year. That may soon be a luxury only extended to the privileged few, as cacao crops are in decline.
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Researcher Doug Hawkins from Hardman Agribusiness says production of cocoa, which is derived from cacao trees, is under threat because farming methods are literally stuck in the dark ages.
“Unlike other tree crops that have benefited from the development of modern, high yielding cultivars and crop management techniques to realise their genetic potential, more than 90 per cent of the global cocoa crop is produced by smallholders on subsistence farms with unimproved planting material,” he reports.
News.com.au quotes Hawkins as saying we’ll be facing “a chocolate deficit of 100,000 tonnes a year in the next few years”.
As if that’s not bad enough, there’s even worse news to come.
According to Hawkins and his cohorts, global pressure on cocoa production in the Ivory Coast – which produces 40% of global crops – has led to wide-scale illegal farming of its protected forest areas.
Eating chocolate may therefore be highly unethical, as it’s leading to the destruction of the environment. Hence the report’s title, I guess…
So what’s a chocolate lover to do?
Wean off the brown stuff now, in preparation for shrinking supply in years to come? Or gorge on as much as possible for as long as possible and make hay while the sun shines?
We may not have to do anything too drastic, as farmers in South America are investigating new methods of farming at this very moment.
“We are seeing in Latin America, particularly in Ecuador, farmers who are saying, ‘Let’s bring it into the 21st century, let’s rethink this crop’,” Hawkins says.
With any luck they’ll rethink it into a sustainable, ethical cycle of production that allows us to satisfy our chocolate cravings well into the future. Or our kids might be forced to contend with, dare I say it, carob.
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