Chocolate's Uncertain Future

Whether you love chocolate or express you love with it, prepare yourself for the coming chocolate shortage!

I've just finished reading several articles by people - by people I mean women mostly - writing about their true love. Valentine's Day is past and some men, who don't already know, found out what women really, really want. Yep, sorry guys, it's chocolate! The uninitiated think I'm attempting humor. Maybe – but that still doesn't address the research showing that a surprising number of women claim to prefer chocolate to sex, other evidence shows that the two have had a well-known, happy relationship that's older than most others!

We don't need scientists or expensive research to confirm what most of us already know how good it makes you feel or, even, that it tastes good. In fact, it tastes so darned good that it has to be bad for you. It's one of those relationships that you just take for granted. You know the type. And I'm not just talking about the good girls attraction for the bad boys — it's more like the better the ice cream the more fattening it is.

Many people's happy relationships with chocolate have outlasted most others in their lives. And many of us leaned to love ealy. In addition to Valentine's day, chocolate helped mark Christmases, birthdays, Easters, anniversaries and other days as special when we were kids and it is a tradition that many of us have continued to enjoy long past childhood.

The spectacular giant Vegreville non-chocolate Egg commemorates the Mountie's 100th anniversary. It is located at Vegreville, Canada and, perhaps, is a harbinger of a less chocolaty future.
The spectacular giant Vegreville non-chocolate Egg commemorates the Mountie's 100th anniversary. It is located at Vegreville, Canada and, perhaps, is a harbinger of a less chocolaty future. | Source
Some say there are four food groups: Milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate and chocolate truffles
Some say there are four food groups: Milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate and chocolate truffles | Source
A cacao tree with fruit pods in various stages of ripening. Taken on the Big Island (Hawaii) in the botanical gardens.
A cacao tree with fruit pods in various stages of ripening. Taken on the Big Island (Hawaii) in the botanical gardens. | Source

Michelle Obama's timing could have been better. We know we shouldn't be reaching for comfort foods in these tough and trying times. But, like it or not, human cravings are governed by a law as sure and mysterious as that of gravity:

If it tastes or makes you feel really good, it's probably bad for you or it'll get you into trouble.

At a young age, most of us have worked out the relationship about stuff that's fun – one way or another, it's not good for us. Simply put – if we got caught, we were in trouble. And that seemed to me one of the advantages of growing up – you got to do a whole lot of fun things a lot more frequently.

Food has always been something of an exception, though. Timing rather than anything else seemed the most important consideration when eating chocolate cakes or cookies. Preparing a lot of very unhealthy food used to be considered one of the most loving of acts and eating large amounts of that food was a way of reciprocating it — the love, that is.

Visits to the grandparents' houses in particular required Herculean efforts at kitchen tables groaning under vast quantities of food requiring our consumption to show love. Of course, at the time none of us knew that any food could be harmful. Although, I sometimes wonder if many of us didn't secretly know that smoking and many forms of eating weren't as benign as we all liked to pretend. This type of willing suspension of disbelief always comes easy to our species, I fear.

The problem was and is that over eating a lot of things that aren't good for us has disastrous consequences for our health as well as our looks and ability to move around. And numerous studies and research confirm what many of us have secretly guessed: Anything that tastes like the food of the gods is practically guaranteed to send us to an early grave, particularly if we overly indulge ourselves. The instances of just one disease alone, Diabetes, are quite terrifying because often it is a direct result of lifestyle choices.

And then scientists brake the astounding news: Chocolate is good for us!

It hardly seems credible! Not only is chocolate not bad for us, we're being told that there are health and other benefits. But it's all relatively old news now. We've even adjusted our taste buds somewhat to the slightly bitter taste of the higher, healthier percentage of real chocolate in our bars and other treats.

Finally, chocolate seems to be the one thing that we can both indulge and enjoy without guilt; in fact, we can tell ourselves that it is really doing us good and know that scientists, doctors, and probably even Michele Obama would all be in agreement. It seems to be too good to be true, and you know what they say about that! Yep, it is too good to be true. It is not that what they have said isn't true, the bad news is that chocolate is about to get more expensive. And I mean:

Chocolate is about to get a whole lot more expensive!

The warning bells of the coming chocolate Armageddon were being sounded in the Fall of 2010:

No Chocolate, Maple Syrup, or Honey -- Apocalypse Near?

Brittny Drye wrote on November 10 that the Cocoa Research Association were predicting that cocoa would become as rare and expensive as caviar because of growing demand and supplies that would remain hopelessly limited. If that wasn't bad enough, on November 11 Tim Wall was writing:


Molten chocolate and a piece of a chocolate bar
Molten chocolate and a piece of a chocolate bar | Source
Chocolate made with high levels of cocoa butter, allowing it to flow gently over a chocolate fountain to serve as dessert fondue.
Chocolate made with high levels of cocoa butter, allowing it to flow gently over a chocolate fountain to serve as dessert fondue. | Source

Chocolate Supply Threatened by Cocoa Crisis

Wall quotes John Mason of the Ghana-based Nature Conservation Research Council as saying that chocolate could become, you've guessed it, as rare as caviar. Again the warning was that chocolate would no longer be affordable to us poor common folk. There are no quick fixes, particularly if the environment and those who grow the cocoa are to be respected, we learn.

If all of this tsunami of bad news hadn't made you reach for the M and Ms, no one would have blamed you for eating a week's ration of Hershey bars in one sitting on viewing Stephen Messenger's November 13ths headline:

Global Warming Could Lead to Vast Chocolate Shortage

I couldn't believe that I had stupidly not taken Climate Change into account when thoughts of pleasantly munching on chocolate bars in my retirement already were seeming like an impossible dream. I should have probably left a comment thanking Mr. Messenger for eloquently reminding me and other readers that chocolate actually grew on trees and was neither the product of chocolate rivers or magical elves. If concerns about climate change weren't bad enough, the thought that any comfort that might previously have been sought in a candy bar may soon become a healthy, tasty memory of the past were down-right disturbing.

If I didn't already feel like a dullard for ever taking the cheapness of a Kit Kat for granted, Linda Lee, on February 1, 2011, had some other alarming news only hinted at by the beguilingly cute headline:

OMG! A Chocolate Shortage?

Ms. Lee cleverly pointed out something else I hadn't taken into account – 40% of the world's cocoa beans are grown on the Ivory Coast. And there's been a great deal of political unrest there. In fact:

Manufacturers are already facing the highest cocoa prices in 30 years.

On February 8 the Ivory coast was again in the news because of a new ban on exports. The reasons are different but the 9 and 10 NEWS headline is similar and suggests that we're heading for a perfect storm when it comes to the shortage of cocoa beans.

Cocoa Bean Shortage May Lead to Chocolate Price Spike

Easter is coming

OMG! Where's my chocolate?


AFTERWORDS

Chocolate's Story grows Darker

I'm learning that there's always been problems associated with the politics of chocolate's production in the Ivory Coast; however, the fate of chocolate and many who produce it looks bleaker than usual as March 2011 advances. Laurent Gbagbo, the illegitimate leader of the Ivory Coast, is in bloody conflict with the internationally recognized president after last year's election. Gbagbo needs money for his soldiers and other supporters and, according to the Wall Street Journal, he won't release cocoa beans for export until he receives export taxes. All of the international sanctions complicate matters even further. Chocolate lovers everywhere are being urged to pressure chocolate companies to end trade with Gbagbo now and commit to working only with the legitimate government. In short, the story of cocoa beans seems to grow both more complicated and sadder as the shortage appears to be more and more inevitable.

By the the end of March 2011, Bloomberg's were predicting that cocoa prices, along with sugar and coffee, will rise by as much as ten-fold by 2014.

A piece of good news for both the Gold Coast, the international community and chocolate lovers was received on April 11, 2011when we learned that the nearly five month battle over the presidency had come to an end with the arrest of defeated President Laurent Gbagbo.

A READER'S TREAT

Thanks to Chris57 for the delicious link to the Chocolate Museum in Cologne. I couldn't resist posting the following that is quoted on the website:

T’will make old women young and fresh,
Create new motions of the flesh,
And cause them long for you know what,
If they but taste of chocolate.


James Wadsworth, London. 1665


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Comments 12 comments

Tony DeLorger profile image

Tony DeLorger 5 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

OMG is right. A confirmed addict and oh what bad news- Not chocolate! I can see the underground market emerging. I guy in a dark trench coat approaches and gently opens one side of his coat to reveal a dozen small bars. $50 buddy, $75 for the 80% cocoa. Come on ya know ya want it?

O M G! Nice Hub Sembj.


Sembj profile image

Sembj 5 years ago Author

Yep Tony - I like the image of the trench coat guy. Thanks, Sembj


CHRIS57 profile image

CHRIS57 5 years ago from Northern Germany

With women and chocolate it is always a story of love and hate.

It is my grandchildren who really contribute to the chocolate shortage.

So - should i speculate in chocolate commodities?

Sweet hub on a sweet issue, thank you.


CHRIS57 profile image

CHRIS57 5 years ago from Northern Germany

A little addon:

Maybe in the future we can see chocolate only in museums.

I had the chance to visit the chocolate museum in Cologne, Germany some time ago. Hope i can post the link:

http://www.chocolatemuseum-cologne.com/live/Chocah...


Sembj profile image

Sembj 5 years ago Author

Thank you for both of your valuable contributions to the coming chocolate crisis. What a great link; I will be adding it to the article along with a quote from Katherine Hepburn, a great favorite of mine! Thanks again.


Sembj profile image

Sembj 5 years ago Author

Hi Again Chris 57 - as you see, I used an alternate quote that I thought more amusing much as I wanted to use Katherine's. Perhaps I will add her quote later - it will be an excuse to put up a lovely image of her.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa

This is awful news indeed! How will I survive without my fix? Thanks for the heads-up.

Love and peace

Tony


Sembj profile image

Sembj 5 years ago Author

The idea of eat, drink and be merry seems more and more sensible but now my spirit has weakened my constitution has reached the point where the philosophy is harder and harder to practice. Cheers, Sem


zoey24 profile image

zoey24 5 years ago from South England

Interesting hub, i am a real chocoholic but was actualy told by my doctor to eat dark chocolate such as Bournville as i am anemic and dark chocolate is packed with Iron. Voted up.

Zoey


Sembj profile image

Sembj 5 years ago Author

Hi Zoey - Thanks for the vote and information. It's not often that the medicine for anything is too pleasant; although your health care doesn't fund the dark chocolate, I am sure it does more good than a good percentage of the pharmaceuticals it does cover.

Stay well,

Sembj


fucsia profile image

fucsia 5 years ago

The chocolate is the true love of many. It never disappoints and is always so sweet!


Sembj profile image

Sembj 5 years ago Author

Thanks for your comment, fucsia; the notion and desirability of constancy being celebrated in a lover used to be recognized and celebrated more; I seem to remember it as a theme in Medieval literature when the trait was as much admired in a man as in a woman. In reality, you are right and we can count on chocolate to always please in a world where little is constant.

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