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The End of Chocolate: Can Science Save the World's Most-Endangered Treat?

Published on Nov 14 2014 3:06 PM in Food

The End of Chocolate: Can Science Save the World's Most-Endangered Treat?

As this future year unfolds, the gap between how much cocoa the world wants to consume and how much it can produce will swell to 1 million metric tons, according to Mars and Barry Callebaut, the world’s largest chocolate maker. By 2030, the predicted shortfall will grow to 2 million tons. And so on.

Because of disease, drought, rapacious new markets and the displacement of cacao by more-productive crops such as corn and rubber, demand is expected to outstrip supply by an additional 1 million tons every decade for the foreseeable future. Here, now, as you read these words, the world is running out of chocolate, Bloomberg Pursuits will report in its Holiday 2014 issue.

Last year, we again consumed more cocoa than we were able to produce. This year, despite an unexpected bumper crop, supply barely kept pace with the recent upswing in demand. From 1993 to 2007, the price of cocoa averaged $1,465 a ton; during the subsequent six years, the average was $2,736 -- an 87-per-cent increase.

The world’s most universally delectable treat has begun a journey from being very loved and very common, like beer, to being very loved and a good deal less common, like Bordeaux. Unfortunately, that is the least of the confection’s problems.

Efforts are under way to make chocolate cheap and abundant -- in the process inadvertently rendering it as tasteless as today’s store-bought tomatoes, yet another food, along with chicken and strawberries, that went from flavorful to forgettable on the road to plenitude.

Brave Breed

Hope exists, however, in the form of a brave new breed of cacao, engineered to be not just fecund and disease-free but also flavorful. This emerging supervariety promises the world a steady supply of high-quality chocolate -- and perhaps holds the key to how all future food should be grown.

Bloomberg edited by HI

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