Posted in Kafevend Blog
Brace yourselves, chocoholics- it turns out that there may well be a cocoa shortage in five years time. Aargh! How has this happened? What's being done to prevent it? Should I create a stockpile? Don't worry yourselves unduly- the Kafevend blog is here to answer your questions and sooth your fears. Just know now that as ever, we'll probably be alright in the long run.
So why are people worrying that there could be a cocoa shortage? After a little research, it seems to come down to a couple of major factors: a fall in supply in places like West Africa and a rise in demand in countries like China. You don't need to be an economist to see that doesn't add up all too well.
The falling supply comes as no surprise when you consider the hardships many cocoa farmers face. In the Ivory Coast, the world's largest producer of cocoa at the moment, farmers are moving away from cocoa and growing other crops such as rubber. Many have been forced to do so as they cannot make enough money from cocoa as the price is driven down. The changing weather also has a hand to play, along with disease and pests. Together with all of this, the aging cocoa trees found on many plantations are not helping either as their yield begins to dwindle.
The rising demand is perhaps best exemplified in China given the huge size of its population. 1.35 billion people live there, which puts the number of us living here in the UK- a paltry 64.1 million- to shame. Chocolate is a relatively new product in China, but the potential market size is huge. This has left businesses pleased on one hand but scrabbling with the other trying to find out where to get the chocolate they'll need. Currently China only consumes around 100g per person every year, which in turn pales in comparison to the 8kg of chocolate per person we eat in the UK. But even those 100g add up given the size of the population, and it looks set to grow.
So, there's a quick summary of where the chocolate's going- now what's being done to remedy the situation?
As ever, it's always easiest if you follow the money. There are many places around the world that have the potential to grow cocoa, and one of those is Australia. In recent years Cadbury has been supporting farmers there to test the viability of growing cocoa. It has proved a success, but there are still some shortcomings to work out. Production is expensive and cocoa processing is labour intensive. This means that the price doesn't compare well to the mass produced chocolate shipped in. Hopefully, as the industry there develops and the prices fall it will be able to offset some of that demand.
You of course could also do your bit to hold off a potential cocoa catastrophe; demand is also still on the up and up in the west, and it's no surprise when you walk down the breakfast aisle. If you're the sort who would rather have a bowl of coco pops, you'd be doing everyone (well, the cocoa oriented among us) a favour if you picked up something less chocolatey instead!