Brace yourselves: Chocolate might go extinct

The Chocapocalypse is coming.
chocolate shortage theobroma cacao trees
Photo: Getty Images

President Donald Trump might not believe in global warming, but he might soon if he can’t get another piece of “beautiful” chocolate cake — and that’s a real possibility, according to scientists.

 

Experts believe that it’ll be impossible to grow by Theobroma cacao‬‬ trees by 2050. Theobroma cacao‬‬ trees — more commonly known as cacao or cocoa trees — are where we get the beans used to make chocolate and global warming is making it difficult for them to grow. The reason: The trees need humid rainforest conditions and rising temperatures are sucking away the moisture, especially in the Ivory Coast and Ghana.

 

To combat that, farmers need to move their trees to higher ground, but there’s limited space — and many of the farmer can’t afford the fertilizers and insecticides needed to grow the plants.

 

“Unlike other tree crops that have benefited from the development of modern, high yielding cultivars and crop management techniques to realise their genetic potential, more than 90 percent of the global cocoa crop is produced by smallholders on subsistence farms with unimproved planting material,” Doug Hawkins of Hardman Agribusiness told the U.K. Express.

 

The average person in Europe and North America eats an astounding 286 chocolate bars a year. That — paired with the fact that demand already outpaces supply — means that “we could be looking at a chocolate deficit of 100,000 tons a year in the next few years,” according to Hawkins.

But at least we’ll ride to extinction with tasty chocolate: A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows that “stressed out” trees actually produce better-tasting cocoa beans.

Cocoa beans grow best in mixed groves where plants and trees use each other to provide nutrient and shade, but more and more farmers are growing their beans in “monocultural” groves made of only cocoa trees. These conditions aren’t the most beneficial for the trees, leading to more stress and, according to the study, beans that have more phenols and other antioxidants that lead to better tasting chocolate.

Forget about self-driving cars: Let’s use science to stop chocolate extinction.

 
 
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