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Cocoa is the essential ingredient for chocolate and 70% of it is grown in west Africa.

That’s significant to chocolate lovers because climate warming is expected to continue to increase temperatures while bringing dry spells there in the coming decades.

That cocoa is grown in football-shaped pods on cacao trees, and those trees are sensitive to heat and drought.

Most of that African cocoa is produced in Ghana and Ivory Coast. It’s an area close to the equator where there has been wild swings in its weather with extreme rain events followed by crippling droughts. This bad cycle has reduced the size and quality of the crop.

The fruit of the cacao tree.

So much, that cocoa prices have been steadily increasing as the supply has been gradually diminishing, especially in 2024. This is the third year cocoa harvests are coming up short. Between October and February, cocoa shipments from the Ivory Coast were 32% lower than the same time the year before.

At the same time, global demand for cocoa has been rising. This is no easy demand to fill either as it can take an entire year for a cocoa tree to produce the cocoa in just half a pound of chocolate.

What does this mean for your chocolate cravings?

As climate change continues to threaten cocoa production, prices will likely remain high through the next couple of years.

This means chocolatiers, like The Hershey Company, will have to continue to raise prices while lowering production.

The Hershey Company said it expects to offset the higher costs in cocoa in part by raising prices. Hershey also said higher sugar costs are also hurting its business.

Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons, Maksym Kozlenko

Not only can consumers expect higher chocolate prices, there are other strategies you may notice as well. Candy companies are also adapting by shrinking the size of their chocolates you get in your package.

Some studies show that due to rising consumer prices, demand will decrease. Some even question if chocolate may become more of a luxury purchase.

One thing is certain, climate warming impacts nearly everything on the planet and will make many things, even chocolate, bittersweet.


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