Is The World Really Running Out Of Chocolate?

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Written By Mahmoud Sarvari

The planet is heading for another major disaster – there’s not enough chocolate to go around despite bumper cocoa crops.

The problem is everyone likes chocolate and growers can’t keep up with the demand.

Last year, the global surplus was 371,000 tons, but this is forecast to fall to just 50,000 tons as sweet-toothed Asians clamour for more chocolate to eat and drink.

We’re not only consuming so much by eating bars of chocolate, but demand from food makers is climbing as well.

The issue is traders are underestimating growth because much more cocoa is going artisan shops, bakeries and restaurants as well as online shopping that are often overlooked in statistics.

Global demand growing

Traders hope the weather stays good in cocoa producing countries this year.

“Extraordinarily good weather will probably ensure a large crop of 1.9 million to 1.95 million tons in Ivory Coast this season, down from over 2.1 million tons last season,” said Gerry Manley, head of cocoa at Olam International, an international agricultural business.

“Ghana production is forecast little changed at 800,000 tons, while output will decline in Ecuador, Peru and the Dominican Republic, which was hit by hurricanes earlier this year.

“There has been very little smuggling between Ivory Coast and Ghana, partly due to better border controls, Manley said. Olam doesn’t see a need for concern this year about the Harmattan, the dry desert winds that usually blow from December and can damage cocoa pods.”

Globally, demand for cocoa – the raw material processed to make all kinds of chocolate – is predicted to grow by 5% after the market dropped for six quarters in a row.

Where does cocoa come from?

Two-thirds of the world’s cocoa for chocolate comes from West Africa.

The Ivory Coast is the world’s largest cocoa bean producer, generating 1.8 million tons this year, with Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Togo producing another 1.5 million tons between them.

Other leading producers include Indonesia, Ecuador, Chile and Peru.

The price for cocoa is set through the Euronext market, where the world’s big three chocolate makers Cadbury, Hershey’s and Nestle buy their supplies.

Most cocoa is grown on small farms rather than plantations, which provides a living for more than 40 million farmers.