The Easter Bunny Can’t Be Happy About the Global “Chocolate Meltdown” – Mother Jones

Black individuals dressed in brightly colored shirts surround a huge, colorful pile of cocoa fruits.

Cocoa producers in Ivory Coast, March 2024.Imago/Zuma

This story was originally published by THE Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate office collaboration.

Around the world this holiday weekend, people will consume hundreds of millions of Easter eggs and bunnies, part of an annual chocolate consumption that can exceed 18 pounds per person in the UK, or 11 pounds in the US -United and Europe. But a global shortage of cocoa – the seed from which chocolate is made – has led to warnings of a “chocolate collapse” that could lead to higher prices and even further shrinkage of bars.

Cocoa prices hit historic highs on the London and New York commodity exchanges this week, reaching over $10,000 per tonne for the first time, following West Africa’s third consecutive poor harvest. . Ghana and Ivory Coast, which together produce more than half of the world’s cocoa harvest, have been hit by extreme weather conditions, made worse by the climate crisis and the El Niño weather phenomenon. This situation has been exacerbated by disease and underinvestment in aging plantations.

The poor harvest has sent chocolate producers scrambling to secure supplies, with many warning of further price hikes and potential reductions in the size of bars and candies. A spokesperson for Nestlé, which owns chocolate brands including KitKat, Smarties and Quality Street, said prices for consumers may have to rise after cocoa prices tripled in a year.

Hedge funds have made big bets on commodity prices this year, with speculators betting more than $8 billion that prices will continue to rise, according to the Financial Times. But no money will reach small-scale producers in West Africa, with Ghana and Ivory Coast having already sold off this year’s harvest through a cartel, leaving many farmers unhappy.

Along with coffee, tea and bananas, cocoa is one of the commodities threatened by global warming, with researchers scrambling to find wild varieties more resistant to heat and drought and able to withstand the conditions future. However, unlike many global crops, much of the cocoa supply is produced by smallholder farmers, many of whom struggle to replace aging trees and afford fertilizer.

“Cocoa prices have reached record levels on the international market. Paradoxically, this does not mean higher incomes for producers,” said Amourlaye Touré, senior advisor at the NGO Mighty Earth. “Record cocoa prices will do little to benefit cocoa-producing countries themselves, as the raw material is transformed into a finished product after being exported. »

Martijn Bron, former head of cocoa trading for commodities giant Cargill, told Guardian that the world was not short of chocolate, but that prices could remain high for some time.

“There is a great shortage of fresh cocoa beans. Normally, the global harvest is around 5 million tonnes. Today it is about 0.5 million tonnes less,” he said. Unlike other products like soy or wheat, “you can’t just plant more cocoa trees and expect production to increase in subsequent years – because they are trees,” he said. declared.

“The market is now worried about whether this is a one-off perfect storm or whether it is structural. If it’s structural, that’s a problem because it means you can’t do something on the supply side. It may take more than five years for supply to recover,” he said.

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Sara Adm

Aimant les mots, Sara Smith a commencé à écrire dès son plus jeune âge. En tant qu'éditeur en chef de son journal scolaire, il met en valeur ses compétences en racontant des récits impactants. Smith a ensuite étudié le journalisme à l'université Columbia, où il est diplômé en tête de sa classe. Après avoir étudié au New York Times, Sara décroche un poste de journaliste de nouvelles. Depuis dix ans, il a couvert des événements majeurs tels que les élections présidentielles et les catastrophes naturelles. Il a été acclamé pour sa capacité à créer des récits captivants qui capturent l'expérience humaine.
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