Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chocolate supply threatened by cocoa crisis

Chocolate was once the drink of Mayan and Aztec kings. Now a cocoa shortage may make chocolate an exclusive luxury again. Chocolate could become as rare as caviar, said John Mason of the Ghana-based Nature Conservation Research Council. That means chocolate treats may become unaffordable for the average person.

The price of cocoa, the raw ingredient for chocolate, has been skyrocketing in international markets. Demand for chocolate, especially for dark chocolate which uses more cocoa, has helped fuel price increases.

But unfair trade and environmental problems have resulted in supply not keeping pace with demand. West Africa leads the world in cocoa production. But the profits don't come back to many of the farmers there, and that is one of the main causes of the shortage.

In the Ivory Coast, cocoa farmers often earn less than $1 a day, and in many cases the land they farm has lost its fertility, said Tony Lass, chairman of the Cocoa Research Association in the UK Independent. Ivory Coast farmers are leaving behind unprofitable, failing cocoa orchards for the cities.

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