U.K. news source, The Independent, recently reported that Switzerland-based Barry Callebaut Group, the biggest international confectionery manufacturer, has raised the red-flag alerting cocoa-lovers the world over to “a potential cocoa shortage by 2020.”
The Swiss company has pointed out that even bumper crops of cocoa are insufficient, given the rising demand for the product, especially from the Asian regions of the world. The demand for cocoa in Asian markets was almost seven times greater than the demand in European markets.
According to Barry Callebaut Group, their company sold over a whopping 1.7 million tonnes of chocolate in 2013/14 – an increase of greater than 11.8-percent from the previous years – and it does not see this trend slowing down anytime soon.
Experts in the field have noted that the potential shortage has resulted in a sharp increase in cocoa prices over the last year, bringing costs up by 25-percent.
According to the report, industry members had – in previous years – already sounded the alarm about the possible crisis.
John Mason of the Ghana-based Nature Conservation Research Council said in 2010 that “in 20 years, chocolate will be like caviar. It will become so rare and expensive that the average Joe just won’t be able to afford it.”
Likewise, companies such as Mars Inc. voiced their fears of a worldwide cocoa shortage, and the ramifications of this on consumers of cocoa-based products.
In 2012. Fiona Dawson, then president of Mars Inc. in the U.K., expressed concerns that the worldwide cocoa industry could possibly “suffer a 1 million tonne shortage by 2020 because of the increasing economic and environmental pressures on cocoa farms.”
Dawson added that the demand on cocoa farms and on production of the bean is “just not sustainable.”
Angus Kennedy, editor for Kennedy’s Confection magazine, last year echoed these apprehensions, saying that the “chocolate bar of the future” would be a far cry from “the chocolate we know and love” due to the sparse amount of cocoa that will go into each bar, as a result of the shortage.
To help address the situation, Barry Callebaut Group has started the “Chocovision” conference. This year marked the second time the company held the meeting, which aims to “foster collaboration” between business involved in the cocoa production and manufacturing industry.
Although measures are being taken to help alleviate the problems looming over the cocoa industry, some companies fear that these may not be enough; due to the number of years that warnings of a shortage have gone unheeded.