Do you eat chocolates, chocolate fountains or chocolate bunnies? Well, our grandchildren might not know chocolate taste since it will run out in about 30-years. The reason is that warming climates will have a very negative impact on cocoa plants.
Currently, cocoa trees grow in a band that extends approximately 20 north and south of the equator. They also require high humidity and abundant rain. However, if the temperature rises over 2.1 Celsius over the next 30 it will have disastrous effects. Mercury will rise up to squeeze water out of plants and soil, and the rainfall won't be enough to compensate the moisture loss. Cocoa production areas will be pushed thousands of feet into mountainous terrain – which is preserved for wildlife.
Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana - which produce more than half of the world's chocolate - will have to decide over preserving their ecosystems or their chocolate business. Producers in Ivory Coast have already started farming in protected forests illegally.
Meanwhile, said business just keeps growing, with the average Western consumer eating the average of 286 chocolate bars a year. Producers need to plant 10 cocoa trees to make 286 bars. More than a billion people from China, Indonesia, India, Brazil and the former Soviet Union entered the market for cocoa since 1990s, and the market can hardly keep up.
"Unlike other tree crops that have benefited from the development of modern, high yielding cultivars and crop management techniques to realise their genetic potential, more than 90 per cent of the global cocoa crop is produced by smallholders on subsistence farms with unimproved planting material," said Doug Hawkins, from Hardman Agribusiness, a London-based research firm. "All the indicators are that we could be looking at a chocolate deficit of 100,000 tonnes a year in the next few years."