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Chocolate makers warn of world running out of cocoa

18 November 2014

The world is eating too much chocolate, according to two major chocolate suppliers as cacao supplies dwindle.

Mars and Swiss-based chocolate giant Barry Callebaut said people were consuming more cocoa than farmers were able to produce, the Washington Post reported.

The world, last year consumed roughly 70,000 metric tons more cocoa than it produced. According to the two chocolate makers, by 2020, that number could reach 1 million metric tons --and could exceed an additional 1 million tons every decade for the foreseeable future.

Ivory Coast and Ghana produced 70 per cent of the world's cocoa, though, disease, drought and farmers opting to grow more productive crops such as corn and rubber had made growing conditions less than ideal.

John Mason of the Ghana-based Nature Conservation Research Council, told The Independent that in 20 years, chocolate would be like caviar; it would become so rare and expensive that the average consumer would not be be able to afford it.

However, there might be hope in sight. Bloomberg reported that farmers in Costa Rica were working on several a new disease-resistant breeds of cacao.

Strains -- called R-1, R-4 and R-6 - were showing promise not only for their ability to resist certain types of cacao-killing diseases but because their taste was superior to that of other strains being developed.

Despite reports that the world's supply of cocoa is running thin, there was no need to worry about stockpiling chocolate reserves quite yet, USA Today reported.

The International Cocoa Organization, a global group made up of cocoa producing and consuming countries, told the USA Today Network that the projection was not correct.

Even as it acknowledged there were problems that could affect production, small deficits and surpluses in cocoa supply were normal, according to Michael Segal, spokesman for the organisation, which forecasts cocoa supply and production.

The organisation projects normal scenario for the next five years.

He said what the organisation was projecting was a very tight close relationship between production and consumption with a small, fairly insignificant deficit or surplus.

He added, the organisation's most recent predictions and forecasts were not anything like the 1 million tonne deficit.

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