Are chocolate supplies about to run out?

Lianzi Fields
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Chocolate crisis
Image: Thinkstock

Stock up on those Mars Bars and hide your Hershey's, because the world is on the brink of a chocolate supply crisis, experts have warned. Panic stations!

Skyrocketing demand for cacao (the raw ingredient in chocolate) in developing countries, coupled with instability in growing regions is threatening global supply, The Register reports.

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Professor David Guest of the University of Sydney's Faculty of Agriculture and Environment said that cacao production must increase by nearly a quarter by 2020 if it is to meet demand from rising economies like China.

"We're in a situation where chocolate manufacturers are anxious about meeting demand, as there's rapidly increasing chocolate consumption in developing economies, paired with instability in cacao growing areas," Professor Guest told The Register.

"One estimate is that global production will need to increase by one million tonnes per year by 2020 — from 3.6 million tonnes in 2009/2010 — to meet global demand."

Guest also warns that methods of production currently used by farmers in main growing areas, including West Africa, South America, Southeast Asia and the Pacific, need to be modernised to bring production up to speed.

But he said that some of the main cacao growing regions are among the least developed and most vulnerable parts of the world, open to political and economic instability, climate change, disease and pests.

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Professor Guest and his colleagues have previously travelled to some of these areas to promote sustainable practices, educating farmers on better methods of crop and soil management and how to select better cacao genotypes.

"While controlling disease is relatively straightforward in theory," he said, "changing farming practice to become more sustainable and rewarding is a much more complex challenge involving social, economic, political and environmental factors."

Your say: Would you be able to weather a chocolate crisis?

Related video: Curtis Stone's chocolate pots with cinnamon cream

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