- Two giants of the world's chocolate industry, Mars Inc. and Switzerland's Barry Callebaut, have issued warnings in the past few days suggesting that a global chocolate shortage is possible by 2020.
- The factors driving such a shortage are numerous: soaring demand, particularly in China; a supply chain threatened by the Ebola crisis; the increasing popularity of cocoa-heavy dark chocolate; and plant diseases such as "witches' broom" and "frosty pod rot."
- Supply of cocoa often falls short of demand, but the gap between what is produced and what is bought is increasing in size and duration. Prices have soared 60% since 2012.
There are two ways to prevent a chocolate catastrophe. First, there is science. Bloomberg News published an article last week on the race to create new disease-resistant strains of cocoa. The problem is that, at least so far, the tastes of the new strains leave something to be desired.
The second method would be for the world to eat less chocolate. That, it would seem, isn't likely until the shortage reaches a level where chocolate becomes so expensive that only the well-to-do can afford it.