Enjoy every last bite of that decadent chocolate bar you regret buying from the vending machine. In fact, you might want to stock up because your cocoa days could be numbered. Chocolate giants Mars Inc. and Barry Callebaut said cocoa farmers produce less than the world eats, according to several reports, which means we are essentially running out of chocolate.
Last year, the world consumed about 70,000 metric tons more cocoa than farmers produced and the shortfall is predicted to persist through 2018, according to Bloomberg. Brace yourselves because this means the world could experience the longest stretch of consecutive chocolate shortages in more than a half-century. In addition to this dire forecast, chocolate-makers warn the deficit could increase more than 14-fold by 2020, and by 2030, the deficit could reach 2 million metric tons, according to the Washington Post. Only about 4 million tons have been produced in each of the last two years, according to the International Cocoa Organization.
The world is only getting hungrier for the chocolaty beans, which has forced prices to climb. Cocoa prices jumped nearly 60 percent in the last few years and surged 24 percent this year alone, according to Bloomberg.
“Demand for chocolate is great,” Ashmead Pringle, the president of GreenHave Commodity Services, told Bloomberg. “A lot of the world population is moving to the middle class and will have more money to spend, in particular in emerging markets and Asia.”
Drought and fungal diseases in West Africa have devastated production in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, where 70 percent of the world’s cocoa is produced. Even the Ebola outbreak has contributed to the problem. Although the West African nations in the cocoa belt have not been directly affected by the virus, fear and price increases have had a ripple effect on cocoa exporters in the region that could have a long-term impact.
“It has a potential to be a huge economic disaster for that part of the world,” said Jack Scoville, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago, who focuses on commodities. “It’s an important source of export earnings, and for the average worker it could be their [livelihood].”