Too Hot for Chocolate? Climate Change Could Decimate the $9 Billion Cocoa Industry, Study Finds

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"Too Hot for Chocolate? Climate Change Could Decimate the $9 Billion Cocoa Industry, Study Finds"

Global warming threatens heat-sensitive cocoa trees, a Gates Foundation study finds

Half of the world’s cocoa supply comes from the West African countries of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. But in the coming decades, climate change could severely limit production in the region — disrupting local farmers and squeezing global chocolate supply.

A new report out from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture finds that between 2030 and 2050, land area suitable for cocoa production will fall dramatically. While rising temperatures and changing rainfall pattern may shift cocoa production to land currently not suitable, the net impact to this $9 billion-per-year industry could be severe.

The news release makes clear that climate change is already having an impact on cocoa crops:

“Many of these farmers use their cocoa trees like ATM machines,” said CIAT’s Dr. Peter Laderach, the report’s lead author. “They pick some pods and sell them to quickly raise cash for school fees or medical expenses. The trees play an absolutely critical role in rural life.

“Already we’re seeing the effects of rising temperatures on cocoa crops currently produced in marginal areas, and with climate change these areas are certain to spread. At a time when global demand for chocolate is rising fast, particularly in China, there is already upward pressure on prices. It’s not inconceivable that this, combined with the impact of climate change, could cause chocolate prices to increase sharply.”

The report predicts that the ideal cocoa growing areas will shift to higher altitudes, to compensate for the higher temperatures. “The problem is that much of West Africa is relatively flat and there is no ‘uphill’. This is a major cause of the potentially drastic decreases in cocoa suitability in the region,” continued Laderach.

In Côte d’Ivoire, cocoa represents 7.5% of GDP; in Ghana, it makes up 3.4% of GDP.

The report, which was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, calls for increased research into heat and drought resistant crops, and to help transition cocoa farming to new regions that will be suitable for production in the future.

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14 Responses to Too Hot for Chocolate? Climate Change Could Decimate the $9 Billion Cocoa Industry, Study Finds

  1. Keep your hands off my Scharffen-Berger!

  2. Leif says:

    And still the Fossil Industry refuses to acknowledge climatic disruption and wash their hands of any monetary responsibility. They will continue to salt away humanities cash flow unless the people demand something different.

    Support the Wall Street protesters. Hold Wall Street accountable. NOW!!!

    • Interesting Times says:

      Haven’t tobacco companies been sued by states and individuals for health care costs/wrongful deaths?

      The same thing should be done to the Killionaire Koch brothers and other fossil fools.

      • Merrelyn Emery says:

        Interesting, I heard yesterday (ABC radio, OZ) that the UN is considering introducing a crime of ‘ecocide’ to sit alonside genocide, crimes against humanity, etc, ME

  3. Mark Shapiro says:

    After reading this article, I just had to have some chocolate.

    I did. It was delicious.

    What a delightful commodity! May we all continue to enjoy chocolate in peace.

    Clean energy now.

  4. Peter Mizla says:

    the price of a candy bar over a year ago is up 20%.

  5. OK… eating chocolate is now a poignant good bye message.

    Let it become the official flavor of a changing world. An epitaph.

    Enjoy it kids, it will not be here forever.

    “Carpe Diem, Carpe Dove Bar”

  6. Maybe someone should send some condolences chocolates to “what me worry?” Lomborg. Seems the new Danish government is going to cut off his huge annual government subsidy. Why? “We believe that it is wrong to give funding to specific ideological researchers.”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/worlds-leading-climate-sceptic-sees-his-funding-melt-away-fast-2362056.html

    Well at least he can still live off his movie royalties.

    • John McCormick says:

      He spent his movie royalties at a hair stylist!

    • Dennis Tomlinson says:

      “…the incoming Danish government will cut off his £1m a year funding.” The cynic in me thinks this is merely a temporary setback for BL. It’s a drop in the proverbial bucket for potential stateside funders of **ideological science**.

  7. “to help transition cocoa farming to new regions that will be suitable for production in the future”

    Hmmm, I think they are talking about growing the trees in huge pots on wheels so they can be tugged along by the villagers as they are force to continually migrate away from one reoccuring hell and/or high water after another.

  8. CTG says:

    Now there’s a good way to get kids interested in the debate about global warming…

  9. ethelromm says:

    I was recently on an elevator, listening to a conversation about how climate change was all wrong.

    Does anyone have a 25-second elevator speech for such occasions? thanks
    High Test