Enjoy today’s Easter eggs: they could soon become a luxury
Chocolate prices set to soar as demand grows and cocoa farmers switch crops
Poor farmers pay the price for our cheap chocolate eggs
Easter 2015 may be remembered as the end of the cheap chocolate era: cocoa prices are expected to double by 2020 as the world’s cocoa supplies run low.
According to David Guest, professor of plant pathology at the University of Sydney, the cost surge is inevitable. The squeeze is partly a result of farmers moving into higher-return crops such as coffee and maize, which are less susceptible to pests and diseases, but it is also linked to problems around the labour-intensive cultivation of cocoa trees.
“It takes about three years after you plant a tree to start harvesting,” said Guest. “You need to look after these trees properly, which requires labour. And labour shortages are a real problem in the cocoa-growing areas because of a drift of young people to the cities and people suffering from poor health.”
Demand is also growing rapidly in places that have not previously consumed a lot of chocolate – particularly China and India. In Asia, demand is now rising almost seven times faster than in Europe. Even recent bumper cocoa crops cannot keep up.
“All eyes are on Asia,” said Angus Kennedy, editor of trade magazine Kennedy’s Confection. “Demand there, and in Nigeria and Vietnam, has seen consumption increases of up to 230% a year. We are not making enough cocoa.”