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Chocolate will be the future caviar

Sat 20 November 2010

, Alberta Opoku, LEAP

Over the weekend Sinterklaas made his annual traditional arrival per steamer in Holland. The entire country now anxiously anticipates the yearly Sinterklaas festival on December 5. But how much longer can the Dutch saint hand out chocolate letters?

As farmers abandon their crops in the global cocoa basket of West Africa (Ivory Coast and Ghana being respectively the largest and second largest cocoa producers), experts warn that chocolate letters, Easter eggs, and other affordable chocolate will be a thing of the past. London chocolatier Marc Demarquette, told UK newspaper The Independent that a bar at €10, or its future equivalent, will be more like it

John Mason, executive director and founder of the Ghana-based Nature Conservation Research Council, has forecast that shortages in bulk production in Africa will have a devastating effect: "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." Cocoa prices have doubled in the last six years to an all-time high over the past three decades. So why is there a global shortage in the raw material? Producing cocoa is too much work and the rewards are too little.

Better management
"It's hard to maintain production at high levels in a particular plot of land every time, because of pest problems that eat away at the yields and the farms need to be rejuvenated," explains Thomas Dietsch, research director of ecosystem services at the Earthwatch Organisation. "Although research into new varieties and better management methods could solve those problems, the other challenge is that cocoa is competing for agricultural space with other commodities like palm oil – which is increasingly in demand for biofuels."

Check out the full story here.

Who are the top chocolate consumers in Europe?

1. United Kingdom

2. Ireland

3. Switzerland

4. Germany

5. Norway

13. The Netherlands