No More Chocolate in 20 Years?

chocolate.jpeg The cacao bean is in danger. The Nature Conservation Research Council (NCRC) recently announced that in 20 years time, “Chocolate will be much like caviar today.” So what’s the deal?
Unsustainable farming practices are to blame. Cacao typically grows in rainforest conditions with high biodiversity. Instead, farmers now clear the forest and use hybrid seeds to increase output over the short-term. Unfortunately, this leads to soil erosion and shorter lifespan of trees. Over time, this practice is predicted to lead to an overall shortage of cacao.
While many a chocoholic may lament this news, I wish to provide our readers with a little firsthand “reality check.” Most of the world’s cacao is grown in West Africa. While living in Ghana during my study-abroad year as an undergraduate, I was struck by the fact that, even though Ghana is a net exporter of cacao, most of the country’s inhabitants could not afford to purchase a Cadbury or Hershey’s bar. Although I shared many a fresh, delicious cacao fruit with my Ghanaian friends, actually eating a chocolate bar was considered a luxury.
For Ghanaians, “no chocolate 20 years from now” is now. Such reminders are necessary to place in perspective predictions of ecological change and impacts on human populations. While we, in wealthy, industrialized countries, may fear with trepidation the loss of resources and biodiversity associated with global warming, it is important to remember that half the world’s peoples are already living that reality.

Shannon Arvizu, Ph.D., is a clean tech educator and cutting-edge consultant for the auto industry. You can follow her test drives in the cars of the future at

9 responses

  1. As if diminishing fresh water supplies, global warming and a tanking economy aren’t enough, the news that the cocoa bean is on its way to obsolescence may push me over the edge. Is it possible that it will take Nestle and Mars to save the world… But seriously, these types of news stories are only going to become more frequent. Sadly, I don’t think that a lack of Godiva is going to start moving the dial on these issues.

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