The day of reckoning is here. Thanks to adverse weather conditions, diseased cocoa plants, and outsize demand, the world’s biggest producers of chocolate say their supply is running dangerously low.
For over 50 years, the world has eaten more chocolate than chocolatiers have produced. But the deficit is growing, thanks to a variety of factors.
Dry weather in West African countries responsible for more than 70 percent of the world’s cocoa production like Ghana and the Ivory Coast has been a major issue, as well as a nasty fungal disease called frosty pod. According to the International Cocoa Organization (who sound like the kind of group you should trust on chocolate matters), frosty pod has wiped out 30 to 40 percent of the world’s cocoa production. These adverse conditions have led many cocoa farmers to get out of the chocolate business altogether, instead growing crops with a more trustworthy profit margin.
And while the worldwide chocolate supply has dwindled, the global appetite for it has grown. Experts estimate the chocolate deficit could be one million pounds by 2020, which means there will either be a massive price increase or a drop in quality of chocolate. According to Bloomberg:
From 1993 to 2007, the price of cocoa averaged $1,465 a ton; during the subsequent six years, the average was $2,736 — an 87 percent increase. Efforts are under way to make chocolate cheap and abundant — in the process inadvertently rendering it as tasteless as today’s store-bought tomatoes, yet another food, along with chicken and strawberries, that went from flavorful to forgettable on the road to plenitude.
If we aren’t careful, “tastes like chicken” could be replaced by “tastes like chocolate” as the cliche of choice when describing a ubiquitously bland flavor.
[h/t Washington Post]