| Sarah Lesslie
Is There Really a Chocolate Shortage?
You may have seen recent news stories spreading the fear that chocolate will soon be hard to come by. Chocolate production in West African countries is having issues because of drought, fungal infections, and Ebola outbreaks. It is not so much that chocolate will be hard to come by that is the issue: It’s that chocolate from these countries will become more expensive. With any commodity, if there is a greater demand than supply, the price goes up.
It is believed that companies such as Hershey’s and Nestle will have to start using alternatives to chocolate, and use less chocolate because of this. I hope to everything holy that if you are reading this blog, you do not still eat Hershey’s or Nestle chocolate. If you do, for the sake of your health, quit now! Consuming high-fructose corn syrup is one of the worst things you can possibly do to your health. Not to mention the host of other reasons to avoid Hershey’s and Nestle, such as the latter’s use of child labor in the cacao industry (but let’s save that for another blog post).
Why doesn’t this affect Chocolita? Part of our mission is to support fair wages for our cacao farmers. We are not in the industry of buying up cheap chocolate from West Africa. We are also in the industry of buying quality chocolate, and most quality chocolate doesn’t come from Africa. I’m not saying none does, just that the majority that comes from Africa doesn’t meet our personal standards. The plants that were brought to the continent (chocolate is native to the Americas) were intended for mass production and were valued more for their high tree-to-pod ratio than their flavor profile.
If anything, bringing the price up of chocolate in these areas is a good thing. Chocolate only grows within 20 degrees of the equator, and with the increase in demand for chocolate comes an increase in the awareness of the industry, which to this day involves child labor and very low pay for workers in certain countries. Many chocolate workers cannot even afford to eat the cacao that they grow. (See the video below of a worker trying chocolate for the first time. Skip to 1:20 for his first bite and reaction.) Most of these unscrupulous business practices occur in Africa, where the larger corporations buy their chocolate. It is imperative for people to look at what type of labor they are supporting, as well as what goes into the food that they are buying.
You are voting with your dollars with every purchase you make, and I am truly grateful that you have decided to support my company and fair-trade organic chocolate.