Chocolate lovers beware. By the end of the decade, there could be a worldwide shortage of your favorite sweet, and its price might be much higher when you can find it.
Two huge chocolate makers with a New Jersey presence – Mars, Inc., headquartered in Hackettstown, and Swiss company Barry Callebaut, with a research facility in Pennsauken – are warning chocoholics worldwide, as they take steps to try and meet skyrocketing demands.
Barry Callebaut says in its corporate fiscal reports released this month that cocoa sustainability is a concern, since the supply has leveled off, while worldwide demand has taken off, particularly in China and parts of Asia.
“Demand for cocoa grows year on year, while cocoa production worldwide remains flat,” the Swiss company said in its sustainability report.
Mars warned in 2012 there would be a worldwide shortage of 1 million metric tons by 2020 due to sustainability problems with cocoa farms, the majority of which are located in Ghana and the Ivory Coast.
Currently, a wave of pests and diseases have been hitting the cocoa crop hard in the two countries, due to a hotter and wetter climate, according to the World Cocoa Foundation.
But the chocolate giants are taking action. Mars, Inc. and Barry Callebaut are both part of the CocoaAction initiative, a worldwide strategy to head off any possible shortages of the sweet. They and other members of the World Cocoa Foundation met last month in Copenhagen to discuss how best to support roughly 300,000 cocoa farmers in West Africa, to the benefit of consumers worldwide.
“We have a real opportunity to transform this industry to the good of millions of farmers and their families,” said Barry Parkin, the chairman of the Foundation, and the chief sustainability officer for Mars. “We now need to move quickly to action and implement in cocoa-growing communities.”
Raphael Wermuth, a Barry Callebaut spokesman, said the Swiss company is now expecting less of a shortage than was predicted a few years ago.
“We still think there will be a cocoa deficit in 2020,” Wermuth said in a statement today. “But also we believe it will be much less than the earlier (prediction).”