Ebola fears linked to cocoa shortfall

Posted at 1:05 PM, Nov 16, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-17 12:18:17-05

Sobering news for chocoholics: The world’s cocoa supply is running low.

Bloomberg News reported Friday that by 2020, the cocoa supply will fall short of worldwide demand by one million metric tons, and by 2030 that shortfall will double.

A number of factors are involved in the projected shortfall – including Ebola.

The Los Angeles Times reportedin October that the West African countries of Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon combine to produce 70 percent of the world’s cocoa beans. Although none of those countries are experiencing an Ebola outbreak, they are in the same region as those that are – including Guinea and Liberia, both of which share borders with Ivory Coast, the producer of more than a third of the world’s supply of cocoa beans.

Just the risk of Ebola spreading to cocoa-producing nations has been driving up both the demand and the market price of cocoa, according to the Times’ story.

Meanwhile, new markets have developed a growing taste for chocolate, which is also tapping the cocoa supply. Bloomberg reportedearlier this year that the surging demand for chocolate in Asia, where more than half of the world’s population lives, is leading to higher prices and shorter supply.

What’s more, El Nino forecasts also threaten the supply of cocoa beans, according to a quote this month from Juergen Steinemann, chief executive officer of the Barry Callebaut Group, the world’s top chocolate maker.

If the supply continues to diminish, NBC News suggests the makeup of candy bars will change so that, “palm oil, chemical flavorings and fillers replace increasingly scarce cocoa beans …”

Bon appetit.