Monday, 26 December 2011
Chocolate will become an expensive luxury item due to climate change…
Enjoy your festive treats while you can, chocolate could once again become an expensive luxury item due to climate change, according to a new study.
By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent
8:00AM GMT 26 Dec 2011
Britain has a greater variety of chocolate bars and treats on sale than any other country in the world and is one of the biggest consumers of chocolate per capita.
But prices are rising due to growing demand in the emerging nations like China and conflict in the countries where the crop is grown.
Now a new study commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has found prices could go up even further due to global warming.
The study of cocoa plantations in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, where more than half of the world’s cocoa is grown, found that the amount of land suitable for production could halve due to temperature rise of just 2.3C by 2050.
Dr Peter Laderach of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture was unable to put a figure on the price rise in almost 40 years' time.
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But he said chocolate will certainly become more expensive if demand continues to rise and climate change causes shortages of cocoa, making it a luxury item.
“If the demand of cocoa keeps growing and the land suitable to grow cocoa decreases the prices will go up,” he said.
Recent political upheavals in West Africa have already pushed up the price by 10 per cent on the trading floor top almost £2,000 per tonne. Higher demand and shortages due to climate change will push up the price further, eventually forcing retailers to put up the price of chocolate bars.
Cadbury and Nestlé have recently pushed up the recommended retail price of top-selling confectionery in the UK such as Dairy Milk, Wispa, Kit Kat and Yorkie by up to 7 per cent – more than double the rate of inflation.
Cocoa trees need a cool climate to thrive and could be moved further up into higher land but since West Africa is fairly flat the potential for this is limited.
The study proposes finding new heat and drought resistant crops and growing more cocoa in the shade.
Ultimately, however farmers will have to branch out from cocoa and diversify with crops that can sustain hotter temperatures in order to survive.
Fair trade chocolate suppliers have long argued that cocoa production should be more focused on high quality production rather than mass plantations. This would allow a better price for farmers, discourage child labour and encourage more diverse farming practices.
The study is not the first time it has been claimed a favourite food is threatened by global warming. Other products reportedly affected by climate change include French wine, and Italian pasta.