At the rate we’re going, chocolate is going to be a rare—and extremely pricey—commodity within the next twenty years. Somebody needs to light a fire under those Oompa-Loompas, stat.
The problem’s easy to explain, and much harder to fix. According to the Cocoa Research Association, we’re consuming more chocolate than we’re producing cocoa. Which means, eventually, we’re going to run out.
Cocoa’s notoriously difficult to harvest, meaning more and more small-scale West African growers—who make an average of 80 cents per day—have little incentive not to turn to more lucrative crops, like rubber, or give up farming altogether in favor of more stable opportunities in cities.
What will the shortage mean? $11 Snickers bars, sooner than you think. Pretzels given out for Halloween. Or more candy made from carob, a poor substitute for the sweet and sticky real deal. And a tectonic shift in how we view our mochas, according the Nature Conservation Research Council’s John Mason:
“In 20 years chocolate will be like caviar. It will become so rare and so expensive that the average Joe just won’t be able to afford it.”
But don’t lose hope! Both Hershey and Mars, Inc. have sequenced the cacao genome, meaning more resilient trees could be in our future. And 20 years seems like enough time to figure out how to incentivize farmers appropriately.
It’s time to panic, everybody.