From the Washington Post:
… Chocolate deficits, whereby farmers produce less cocoa than the world eats, are becoming the norm. Already, we are in the midst of what could be the longest streak of consecutive chocolate deficits in more than 50 years. It also looks like deficits aren’t just carrying over from year-to-year—the industry expects them to grow. Last year, the world ate roughly 70,000 metric tons more cocoa than it produced. By 2020, the two chocolate-makers warn that that number could swell to 1 million metric tons, a more than 14-fold increase; by 2030, they think the deficit could reach 2 million metric tons.
The problem is, for one, a supply issue. Dry weather in West Africa (specifically in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, where more than 70 percent of the world’s cocoa is produced) has greatly decreased production in the region. A nasty fungal disease known as frosty pod hasn’t helped either. The International Cocoa Organization estimates it has wiped out between 30 percent and 40 percent of global coca production. Because of all this, cocoa farming has proven a particularly tough business, and many farmers have shifted to more profitable crops, like corn, as a result.
Then there’s the world’s insatiable appetite for chocolate. China’s growing love for the stuff is of particular concern. The Chinese are buying more and more chocolate each year. Still, they only consume per capita about 5 percent of what the average Western European eats. There’s also the rising popularity of dark chocolate, which contains a good deal more cocoa by volume than traditional chocolate bars (the average chocolate bar contains about 10 percent, while dark chocolate often contains upwards of 70 percent)…
The obvious answer would be to pay those cocoa farmers more for their pods, but the corporate response is to work on breeding “more efficient” (less tasty) cocoa trees.
This alarming news arrives courtesy of two of the largest global producers, Barry Callebaut and Mars, Inc.…
we are running out of something.
I think we need cross breed cocao and blue fin tuna. Kill two non-birds with one bean.
I was going to move to Hawaii and grow vanilla bean, maybe I should look at cocao.
we need something. what we are doing is not working.
Too late — several people have already beaten you to it. I have several examples waiting to be eaten.
Something to keep in mind, as the Wikipedia article indicates, the Mars is based in the DC suburbs. The WP doesn’t have a history of pushing back against huge companies in its backyard, so …
To be clear: there may very well be problems with cacao production. But pushing fears of such a thing helps Mars if it means raising prices, making portions smaller, or increasing the filler to chocolate ratios.
Recall there were similar stories 5 years ago.
If I don’t get dark chocolate, I don’t want to be in this world
we need something.
A smaller human population would help.
Human contraception is the highest-leverage, least expensive technology for addressing resource and environmental problems.
Support Planned Parenthood.
Maybe, someone can say that eating chocolate is good for luck adn they can stop killing elephants for ivory. Everytime the Chinese get intio something there is a shortage. I wish we had an ethical market.
If only President Obama would state his support for chocolate.
I’m a member of the President’s Circle.
In any case, the upcoming chocolate shortage seems like exactly the kind of thing that conventional market economics are good at solving. If demand goes up faster than supply, prices will go up, restraining demand and encouraging more suppliers to get into the business. Eventually, we’ll reach a new equilibrium. It will be a disappointment to chocolate lovers, but them’s the breaks.
Maybe there’s a shortage of child slave labour in the cocoa growing regions?
There’s only one answer to that, more children.
CNN is working on a dramatic score to go with the graphics for this upcoming Chocpocalypse.
Maybe we should stop making 10 inch tall bunnies out of it.
This is good news for the Organization of Chocolate Outputting Countries (OCOC).
As a kid I liked Van Houten semi-sweet/dark chocolate. I still prefer semi-sweet/dark chocolate. What I really like is Lindt’s Lindor Truffles or just dark chocolate truffles.
We’ve known for decades that the world can not support a global population that reaches U.S. consumption levels.
Al Gore wrote about it, in the late 1980’s, in Earth in the Balance and I doubt he’s the first person to notice the possibility.
Plenty of West African farmers of the stuff are also notorious for retrograde labor practices, up to and including slavery.
Mars Needs Wonka Bars!
Really? So just exactly where did those extra 70,000 tons that we ate come from? Is there a Fort Knox* of chocolate? Maybe we should just rob it.
* I hereby nominate the name “Fort Knocolate”.
@encephalopath: But those are usually hollow, so they’ve got the chocolate content of 4 inch bunnies.
I don’t know what they use to make those bunnies but they do not use any of our precious chocolate supply as far as I can tell.
Paul Ehrlich, “The Population Bomb” about 1968 or 69. The problem with that book is he misjudged how fast we would use up resources so the book became a tool for making fun of these predictions. What he wrote is still happening its just taking longer than he expected.
They might make those chocolate bunnies out of peeps, I think the cocoa content of both is about the same!
I used to love stale peeps. Once they got hard & crunchy they were good. Now they are all plastic & never get hard & crunchy.
@Schlemazel: Microwave them suckers!
Good news, citizens! Chocolate rations have been increased to 20 grams per week!
I was going to start a new thread since I can’t bear to contemplate a chocolate shortage, not even for a second, but it looks like a new post is already in the works. So instead I’ll use this space to complain about my wretched insomnia. It’s a chronic thing, but this past year has been the worst ever.
Last night I got ZERO sleep. Usually I’ll at least get a few hours. And I’ve got minimum of 12 hours of work ahead of me today. I’m not sure what I can do about it. I’ve cut out virtually all caffeine, something I never thought I’d be able to do in a million years.
I’ve tried to get more exercise, though that’s damn hard while exhausted. I’ve tried every home remedy and recommended habit change in the book.
Years ago, when Ambien first came on the market, I tried that and had a scary experience. This was before people started reporting all the weird side effects; I guess I was one of the first. Point being, Rx doesn’t seem to be an option.
I’ve gone through insomnia cycles all my life, but this is the most grueling, extended one ever. I’d rather take a beating than see a doctor about something like this, but it looks like I’ll have to drag my ass to one pretty soon if I can’t shake this damn sleeplessness.
I have seen video of that, might be worth it for the entertainment value.
@OzarkHillbilly: I am one of those strange people that doesn’t like chocolate. I am not even sure where people grow cocoa (outside of what was mentioned here). I say this because the same thing is happening with coffee. I am a huge coffee snob. I like really, really good coffee. But I might be part of the problem, as coffee prices spike, because when I tried to figure out where my $20/pound coffee came from I was frankly stunned. Nice things can tend to take a lot of resources to produce. And when say China wants more chocolate or I want “good” coffee, that puts a strain on the system that produces it.
@Betty Cracker: It may not be an MD that you need to see kiddo. You’ve been through a lot lately. As someone who laughed at the idea of getting help I can tell you it can be very valuable to see someone about YOU.
@Betty Cracker: I feel your pain. Literally.
Sorry to hear it. Not sure how to help.
Well, you could read my comments. That might help.
@OzarkHillbilly: I’ve been up for an hour and when I hit FB my sis in LA saw that I was up and messaged me. She’s been in an awful situation with her disabled husband for years. I don’t know how they make it (mostly with help from her girls) but I know she has awful sleep patterns too.
@raven: I second that sentiment.
@Betty Cracker: I am not a doctor and I really shouldn’t give any medical advice, but I have terrible insomnia. I used to sleep like a baby. Only happened as I got closer to 40. My mom the same way. I learned awhile ago not to fight it. I sleep when I am tired, even if it is the middle of the day. Now I work for myself, so this is easier than for most people, but I can’t stress enough fighting it won’t help.
BTW: I got an Up Jawbone 24. One of those fitness bands. This one, and honestly no clue how it does it, but it monitors sleep patterns. It has helped me sleep more.
The woman foolish enough to marry me has always been a ‘light sleeper’ but she deals with it very well. I on the other hand was 3 seconds short of being labeled narcoleptic when I had my sleep study. I can fall asleep fast & usually stay asleep. But, when under stress I wake up & can’t go back to sleep a lot & that really messes with my brain. A lot of stress the last few weeks, brain misfiring regularly now.
You may want to talk to a doctor, maybe not for sleep meds but just to see. It couldn’t hurt.
I occasionally take some otc thing that is the sleeping component in those night time painkillers (Tylenol PM for instance). They seem to help but I only do it on nights I don’t work in the morning because I can be slow starting the next day.
The “predictions” were not predictions. People who wanted to discredit the book and its ideas insisted on portraying them that way so as to make it easier to deride them.
The Raven on the Hill
@Betty Cracker: Sympathies, too. It may just be that the world is crazy and we are reacting—where are we going and what are we doing in this handbasket? On the other hand, a sleep study might be worthwhile.
Melatonin, and its prescription version, Rozerem, often work quite well. Remember that the useful dose of melatonin can be as low as 100 mcg, and that the strength of typical versions of the stuff is uncertain; it is not regulated as an OTC pharmaceutical. So dilute that stuff, if you try it.
@Tommy: Jon Kabat-Zinn agrees
Full Catastrophe Living
The first three sections of the book lay the theoretical groundwork of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) – paying attention to the moment, breathing, meditation practices, reconnecting the mind with the body, holistic healing or physical and/or psychological illness, and an analysis of what stress actually is. The last two sections are devoted to the application of mindfulness theory in our everyday lives: working with symptoms, physical pain, emotional suffering, fear, panic, anxiety, time stress, sleep stress, people and role stress, and finally work, food, and world stress.
@The Raven on the Hill: It wired me like there was no tomorrow.
The Raven on the Hill
@Little Boots: we’re running out of everything. Cue Jay Forrester and the Club of Rome.
The Raven on the Hill
@raven: That’s fascinating. There are some variant reactions to melatonin out there; it is not the only pathway to sleep. I know a woman who is allergic. She has, as you might guess, serious problems keeping a sleep schedule.
@The Raven on the Hill: I never really figured it out. I know that stimulants slow me down and, back when I did them, downers had me up and running. I will say I didn’t give melatonin much of a chance but the times I tried it didn’t work for me.
@raven: Sounds like a very interesting book. Just send the URL to my tablet to order. I am pretty active. According to my fitness band I do about 20,000 steps a day. The average is under 5,000 for most users. I do yoga a few times a week. I want to up my yoga, my walking, and try meditation. I love he uses the phrase mindfulness. I want to be more mindful of many things.
@The Raven on the Hill: I want to be careful because I know there are many drugs that are VERY helpful to people. But I watch the commercials for this or that drug for aiding in sleep and the side effects seem to be worse than the symptoms. It seems to me the drug companies will try to make up a problem (restless leg syndrome I am looking at you) where I might need to take another drug to counteract the side effects. That seems counterproductive to me.
@Tommy: Jon Kabat-Zinn – “The Healing Power of Mindfulness”
The biggest issue is that cacao is very labor intensive to grow and produce but has historically gotten little money for the farmer. It’s just easier for farmers to grow something more profitable.
Of course that would mean that Hershey bars would cost 5 bucks a pop and Americans would flip their shit.
@Chopper: That was my point in my comment about coffee being similar. The best coffee grows at higher elevation. In lava based soil. And in the shade of banana trees. But want to make money, clear-cut the forest and plant more coffee. What happens? The soil runs off (did I mention elevation).
It is a terrible long term business model but a great short term one. Picked by hand, dried on a huge platform in the sun. Very labor intensive if done correctly. Why I often pay $20/pound for coffee. I know where it is coming from. But as you said with a $5 Hershey bar, folks would freak if they had to pay more than $5 for Folgers.
Thanks for listening, everyone. If I can make it through the holidays in one piece, for some reason, I think things will improve.
@Betty Cracker: It’s likely that things will get better. My own insomnia comes and goes.
And, about chocolate– I’m resigned to paying whatever. The good news is that there’s lots of terrific stuff out there and it’s possible to train oneself not to overdo it. If you don’t have a local source for the good stuff, try this:
Two for you
Get Me Through December
Merle Haggard – If We Make It Through December
@raven: Thanks! I needed that!
@raven: YES!!! Fun with food. Have you ever tried grapes in a microwave… they go zooming across the inside space like rockets., balloons let go and losing their air. However, the microwave does then require much cleanup. Mint patties are good to microwave. The best may be Ivory soap which balloons up in strange shapes and gives off a strange smell. A former co-worker and I use to perform these feats of fun in hte office when we got bored.
@Schlemazel: Good reference. I was thinking about that book when I first read Gene108’s comment. Not that you beat me to it, I hadn’t formed what I wanted to say.
@Schlemazel: It is. See my comment at #54.
Go somewhere with the mister for a month. Somewhere unusual, with none of the nonsense you associate with “the holidays.”
It may be a little late to look for volunteer opportunities for the coming season but, then again, maybe it’s not.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
What? WHAT! SOCIALIZM!!!!
@Cervantes: That’s a good idea (getting the heck outta Dodge), and if I were one of my younger siblings, I would. But since my grandma is too old and my mom is gone, someone has to be the matriarch, and it falls to me now. No wonder I can’t sleep!
“Last year, the world ate roughly 70,000 metric tons more cocoa than it produced.” This statement makes no sense to me. How on earth can we eat more cocoa than we produce? Is there a cocoa stockpile somewhere? 70 TONS of the stuff?
@I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: Also, the Mars family, if not cut from the same bolt of cloth as the Kochs, well then, from another bolt in that same aisle (for those of you who don’t frequent fabric stores, similar bolts of fabric are arranged next to each other, e.g., all the cotton calicos in one aisle, all the woolen tweeds in another, etc.).
So wouldn’t necessarily believe what they say. Not that everyone else on thread isn’t correct when they mention the planet is past its carrying capacity.
Yes, there are many cocoa stockpiles, only some of which are monitored — and those contain on the order of a year’s production, i.e., millions of metric tonnes.
Since chocolate is loathsome and requires gobs of sugar to make it even marginally palatable, this is good news on all fronts. Less sugar consumption, less diabetes.
The Club of Rome made long-term predictions in 1972 based on Erlich’s book. Guess what? The Club of Rome’s predictions are almost exactly what’s actually happening.
Like all huge catastrophes, the collapse and destruction of earth’s ecosphere and the mega-Malthusian dieoff of huge numbers of species (including humans) simply isn’t being noticed because it’s not some AVENGERS-style instant annihilation. 4 out of 5 species on earth going extinct doesn’t cause an uproar if it happens over a period of 70 years instead of 70 days.
Humans are short-sighted, ignorant and stupid. Everything Erlich talked about is happening, just happening without fanfare and without a James-Bond-style laser beam death ray boiling the oceans overnight. So most people don’t notice.
The motto of homo sapiens should be: SMART PRIMATES, FOOLISH CHOICES.
Oh, well. We had our chance. Maybe the horseshoe crabs will do better. They’ve been around for 450 million years, about 80 times as long as humanoid apes. The horseshoe crab has been much more successful as a species than homo sapiens. When they inherit the earth, no one will notice that homo sapiens has vanished.