The chocolate industry is entering crisis mode. You may already know that chocolate prices have been steadily increasing as the industry struggles to keep up with consumer demand. But new analysis from the Cocoa Barometer, a data report that investigates the world’s cocoa sector in Africa, where more than half of the world’s chocolate is grown, has determined that the future of chocolate is in peril. If their research is accurate, there may be no one left to farm and harvest the prized coca bean.
Despite recent price jumps, most of the world’s cocoa is still sold at unsustainably low prices relative to worldwide demand, due in large part to the miniscule wages on which impoverished cocoa farmers subsist, according to the Barometer's researchers. As a result of these harsh conditions, the average age of the cocoa farmer is rapidly increasing because few young farmers are entering the industry.
“Despite all the efforts in cocoa at the moment, the core of the problem is still not being addressed: the extreme poverty of cocoa farmers, and their lack of a voice in the debate,” said Antonie Fountain, co-author of the Barometer. “Unless the cocoa sector fundamentally changes, there will be no future cocoa farmers.”
According to the report, most cocoa farmers survive on less than $2 USD per day. However, there is a silver lining: almost 16 percent of chocolate sales globally are made with certified sustainable chocolate, up from two percent in 2009.