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global cocoa shortage

cocoa pods surrounding a pretzel toffee twirl chocolate bar

What’s Going On With The Global Cocoa Shortage—And How You Can Help

guest post by ashley schuering -


Hey, chocolate lovers! Have you noticed that the cost of chocolate has been steadily rising? It’s not just your imagination! So, why is chocolate so expensive these days? The culprit isn't just economic fluctuations; it's something much smaller and sneakier: black pod disease. 

What’s Eating Our Cocoa? The Tale of Black Pod Disease

Imagine a cocoa tree, happily growing its pods to one day become the chocolate we adore. But sadly, our happy little tree has contracted a terrible illness known as black pod disease. 

This sickness is caused by a group of moisture-loving fungi known as Phytophthora. Literally translated, the name means “plant destroyer,” so you know the prognosis isn’t good. Phytophthora attacks the cocoa pods, turning them black and rotten before they can ever become cocoa beans. 

These fungi thrive in the wet, tropical climates where cocoa trees grow, and since they can spread from tree to tree with just a splash of rain, they’re notoriously difficult to contain. It's a widespread issue that typically destroys 20-40% of the world’s cocoa every year. However, 2023 was the worst in 20 years thanks to a particularly rainy season in West and Central Africa. 

As a result, the cost of raw cocoa has surged to the highest prices on record, surpassing a whopping $10,000 per metric ton of cocoa in January 2024. For reference, the cost for a metric ton in March of 2023 was less than $3,000. 😱

The Future of Chocolate

As the battle against black pod and other crop diseases continues, the chocolate industry is seeking sustainable ways to ensure cocoa production meets global demand. 

At Chuao, we’re actively investing in research and collaborating with our wonderful cocoa farmers to manage and hopefully eradicate diseases like black pod. Recent breakthroughs in research are offering hope. 

Scientists have made advances in understanding the pathogens involved and developing resistant cocoa plant varieties. Innovative biological controls, such as using natural fungi that counteract black pod pathogens, are also being explored. But, as you might imagine, all of this research and implementation comes at a cost.

Why Should You Care?

For those of us at Chuao Chocolatier, black pod disease isn't just a farmer's problem—it's a chocolate lover’s problem too. Our mission to deliver joy through chocolate gets tougher whenever cocoa prices spike. 

Since we strive to pay fair wages and maintain sustainable cocoa farming practices, it's a tightrope walk between staying true to our values and navigating the economic realities of chocolate production. The rising cost of cocoa means we have to be even more creative and resourceful in how we craft our confections — without compromising on quality or our ethical standards.

What Can You Do?

First off, keep enjoying chocolate! By choosing chocolates from companies that invest in sustainable practices, you're helping us support cocoa farmers who are battling black pod disease. 

If you’re worried, being an ethical consumer doesn't have to be complicated. Here’s how you can make a difference:

  • Choose Responsibly -  By buying chocolate from companies who are committed to ethical sourcing and supporting sustainable farming practices, you're part of the solution. (Psssst! Chuao is one of them!)
  • Spread the Word - Tell your friends about the impact diseases like black pod have on cocoa production and why supporting artisan chocolatiers can make a difference. While our prices are higher than mass-produced chocolate, it’s because we’re buying the very best cocoa at fair market wages.
  • Enjoy More Chuao! - It might sound simple, but every chocolate bar you buy from Chuao Chocolatier backs our efforts to fund research into disease-resistant cocoa plants and support better farming techniques. Plus, you get to savor delicious, creatively crafted chocolate—it’s a win-win-win!

Together, Let’s Secure the Future of Chocolate

As a community of chocolate lovers, we have the power to impact how chocolate is produced and enjoyed around the world. So next time you indulge in a Chuao bar, remember that your choice supports a company that’s dedicated to fighting the good fight for chocolate’s future. Together, we can ensure that chocolate continues to be a source of joy and sweetness for everyone. Let's make every bite count!

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