Global Chocolate Crisis on the Horizon

In the words of Hall and Oates, "Say it ain't so."

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Chocolate may not be readily available in the near future.

If you just heard the collective sigh of women all over the world, the reason may be that AOL's Dave Thier is reporting that there is a chocolate crisis looming. It seems that the supply cannot keep up with the demand for chocolate, for a variety of reasons. The simple economics of cocoa cultivation is working against the cheap global supply. Cocoa is a labor- and time-intensive crop, and the West African farmers who produce it don't have the price incentives to continue a cultivation process that takes three to five years. In addition, years of intensive cocoa cultivation have drained the soil in places like Ghana and the Ivory Coast. As a result, every year's cocoa crop shows a diminishing return.

In the meantime, chocolate consumption in both Western and developing countries is only increasing, and so a dwindling supply could translate to skyrocketing prices. Translation: Chocolate is going to become like caviar -- rare and extremely expensive. The effects of dramatic cocoa price increases will change our conception of candy. Cheaper bars could be made with significantly lower chocolate contents or substitutes like carob, and high-cocoa-count dark chocolate could become a treat for only the wealthy. In 2008, chocolate price increases made it so that Hershey's new, cheaper recipes couldn't even be legally called chocolate. Stop the presses -- chocolate that isn't really chocolate. Oil, water and now chocolate? This may be good news for our waistlines, but not for our sanity or satiety.

Read more at AOL News.

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