The World is heading towards a global chocolate shortage. Next time you grab a bite from your favourite chocolate, be sure to savour it. It might just run out in the future.
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Global Chocolate Shortage
Chocolate is the greatest novelty invented on the face of the Earth. Right from a two year old infant to a ninety year old individual – everybody craves for it. Those who don’t like chocolates as such definitely enjoy the occasional flavour in cakes, puddings, custards, candies, ice-creams , wafers and even biscuits. No celebration, no occasion, no festival, no moment of gaiety is ever complete without savouring the snuff coloured mass that instantly melts in your mouth. There’s an old quotation which says , “Books and chocolates make life bearable.
However, have you ever wondered – What if the world runs out of chocolate one day ?? Sounds strange ? I mean why will we even think that we can run out of chocolate . Isn’t it everywhere ? Well it is now but it may not be there forever.
Source of Chocolate
Chocolate is made from cocoa beans , the dried and partially fermented seeds of the Cacao tree – a small evergreen tree native to tropical regions.The scientific name given to the cacao tree is Theobroma cacao. While there have been some recent attempts to modify to the growth cycle, as a rule the tree starts producing cacao in its 5th year with peak production in its 10th year. The trees can grow to be 100 years or more, but commercial production stops after 25 yrs.
The shiny green leaves spring from branches on a trunk that grows up to 30 ft tall. The cacao flowers continuously once it has matured, with orchid-like white & pink blossoms growing directly from tree trunk. Of the thousands of blossoms approximately 100 will become mature pods, which will also grow directly from the trunk of the tree. Cacao trees grow best in the geographic band that is 15-20 degrees north or south of Equator in West Africa, Central and South America and parts of Asia.
Cacao is also grown in Sri Lanka, parts of India, Venezuela, Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Madagascar, Peru, Colombia, Guatemala, Hawaii, Mexico, Fiji and other countries clustered near the equator. The trees flourish in the shade of rain forests where they gain protection from the wind in rich, well drained soil. The climate is one of high humidity, usually 100% during the day and 70-80% at night. The cacao prefers a constant but moderate temperature of 77 degrees at all times, and ample rainfall of 40-80 inches per year is preferable.
Why is the World Running Out of Chocolate ?
Two of the largest and most famous chocolate makers of the world – Mars, Inc. (USA) and Barry Callebaut (Switzerland) have stated that the demand for chocolate is likely to outstrip its production by one million metric tons by 2020. The reason being that over 70% of the of the world’s cocoa is produced in the Ivory Cost and Ghana but growing conditions in West Africa have not been ideal. Also, cocoa typically is not their primary crop so it doesn’t get their first attention, even when its price is rising.
Global cocoa reserves have been constantly falling over the past few decades. Cocoa, extracted from the Cacao tree is the base ingredient for chocolate and hence extremely vital. Asia alone, which is home to about 3.7 billion people is the the consumption “powerhouse” for cocoa and chocolate. The emerging markets of India and China have been in recent years, the biggest consumers of cocoa. Despite the shortage warnings, the increase in demand for chocolate was almost seven times greater in Asia compared to that of traditional Europeanare concerns that repeated warnings in previous years have simply not been listened to.
John Mason of the Ghana-based Nature Conservation Research Council has predicted that “in 20 years, chocolate will be like caviar. It will become so rare and expensive that the average Joe just won’t be able to afford it.” Kennedy’s Confection magazine editor Angus Kennedy has said that – ” the future of chocolate could be threatened soon .Prices are set to soar over the next few years as chocolate becomes harder to get hold of. As a result many big-name companies are expected to fill bars that are smaller in size with more nuts and fruit because they are cheaper to we will see is a higher price for cocoa powder and, in turn, chocolate. The price for bars will go up over the next few years. You will see less chocolate in the bars. There will be smaller bars, more biscuits, more raisins, more nuts because they are cheaper to fill space will probably be filled with a lot more sugar as well because it is the cheapest ingredient to bulk out the cocoa. The chocolate bar of the future” would be made with so little cocoa it will be “nothing like the chocolate we know and love”.
At its root, the chocolate shortage is caused by an imbalance between the demand for chocolate and the land available for planting. Traditionally, farmers have fought back against disease by planting trees on new land. Today, little land is available and hence the shortage. So if you love chocolate and want it on Earth forever, you better start making efforts to conserve the environment and moderate climate change. Just like global warming, the chocolate crisis may be prevented by ecologically sensitive, or “green,” technology. Start conserving and respecting the environment and its natural resources, else you will lose the irreplaceable flavour forever.
Support Fair Trade
Although ‘Fair Trade chocolate’ may be a relatively new movement, the conditions that it tries to prevent are not. When you take a bite into that luscious chocolate bar, source of ecstatic pleasure, do you stop to think about who grew the cacao that made your chocolate fantasy possible? Possibly one of the more than 15,000 child slaves working on cacao farms in west Africa. Does that chocolate still taste good? The statistics are sobering, yet large chocolate manufacturers still insist that, because of the way cocoa is traded at global markets, it is impossible for them to tell which cacao is grown by slaves and which isn’t. Estimates show that up to 40% of cocoa is slave grown.
How to support Fair Trade Chocolate
1) Look for products that are certified Fair Trade chocolate
When farmers and laborers are paid a fair price for the products they produce, rather than being exploited for cheap labor, that is considered “Fair Trade.” Since they are paid a fair wage, producers can avoid cost-cutting practices that sacrifice quality and are destructive to the environment.Fair Trade chocolate certification is based on the standards set forth by Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International, a consortium of trade groups throughout the world who establish the criteria for all Fair Trade products, including Fair Trade chocolate. A similar movement is called Equi-Trade.
2) Demand that your chocolate manufacturers and elected representatives take action
Do to ensure that cacao is produced without slavery. Learn more about how to do this by visiting Global Exchange, an organization that offers many ways to help ensure fair labor standards worldwide.
3) Buy organic chocolate
Organic and Fair Trade chocolate really go hand in hand, and you will find that many organic products are Fair Trade and vice versa. Hopefully it already makes sense to you that spraying crops with pesticides and then harvesting and consuming those crops means you are eating pesticides. So that’s one reason to buy organic. Also, because organic farms are routinely inspected in order to maintain their organic certification, it is more difficult for them to exploit their workers without it being noticed.
4) Adopt a chocolate tree
Support the efforts of the University of West Indies, whose International Cocoa Gene bank is working to preserve the world’s wild cocoa varieties.
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO THE FUTURE OF FAIR TRADE CHOCOLATE, ONE BITE AT A TIME.
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