Rising Chocolate Prices Signal an Impending Cocoa Crisis

High demand coupled with poor yields have top chocolate companies raising wholesale prices. The future of the industry is bleak as social, economic, and environmental factors could cause cocoa bean production to crash. Although this isn't exactly an economical depression, that's the emotion most chocoholics are feeling right now.

What's the Latest?

Are you prepared for the Chocolate Depression? No, that's not an economic term; it's an emotional one. Your Kit Kat bars are about to get a whole lot more expensive.

Reuters reports that Hershey has joined competitors Mars and Nestle in announcing price increases for their products. The rise in the cost of chocolate is a direct response to the skyrocketing price of cocoa beans and dairy products. Unfortunately for chocoholics, numerous social, economic, and environmental factors suggest the price of sweets is only going to keep rising.

What's the Big Idea?

According to Slatethe price of cocoa beans has shot up 18% this year alone, a result of high demand unsuitably coupled with dwindling supply. It's been a rough year for the world's cocoa producers, many of them independent farmers struggling in volatile markets such as Côte d’Ivoire (which produces 37% of the world's cocoa), Ghana (21%), Indonesia (13%), and other equatorial countries. Despite corporate investments aimed at improving infrastructure and stabilizing these vital cocoa-producing regions, many farmers are abandoning the crop altogether. One reason is that climate change threatens to slow chocolate production in the coming years. Cocoa crops are particularly vulnerable to erratic weather shifts. That they can only really be grown in a small latitudinal pocket located around the equator makes finding new production bases difficult.  

While the threat of 250 million displaced people probably won't influence the world's leaders to act on climate change, having to pay an extra $2 for a Kit Kat bar just might. 

Read more at Slate, DevExand Reuters

Photo credit: joannawnuk / Shutterstock

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