The disturbing news spread like wildfire in forums and websites across the Internet: chocolate could be as rare and pricey as caviar in 20 years time, experts claim. This news is sure to frighten candy lovers and the general public the world over.
Despite this, the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), a leading industry group in promoting sustainable cocoa farming, doesn’t believe that prediction has to become reality and is helping farmers, in partnership with businesses, governments and research institutes, with the tools they need to succeed.
The startling revelation about chocolate gathered strength just last week when John Mason, founder of the Ghana-based Nature Conservation Research Council, told British newspaper The Independent that shortages in production in Africa — which produces around 70 per cent of world cocoa — will have worrying consequences.
“In 20 years, chocolate will be like caviar. It will become so rare and so expensive that the average Joe just won't be able to afford it,” Mason is quoted as saying.
However, Bill Guyton, the President of the WCF, is more optimistic.
“While we understand the research data indicating that cocoa could become a rarity in 20 years time, the WCF does not believe that prediction has to become reality.”
But in order to meet the growing demand for chocolate products, farmers must get better conditions, Guyton tells Metro. “Cocoa farming will need to become more professionalized and the social, economic and environmental conditions for the millions of small-scale farmers who grow the crop in West Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia need to be improved.”
On a recent trip to West Africa, Bill visited a farmer who, having completed technical training, was producing nearly two tons per hectare by using improved planting materials, proper tree spacing, fertilizers and pest controls.
“This is nearly three times the national averages of most cocoa-producing countries. That is just one example of our efforts to improve cocoa farm production and the living standards of those who grow the crop. To date, WCF has reached some 420,000 farmers with improved cultivation techniques resulting in yield and income improvements of as much as 20-40 percent.”
The World's Biggest Chocolate Lovers
Top 10 Retail chocolate, 2009 Imports (in USD).
Source: Globe Trade Atlas, May 2010