Cocoa Shortage Looming

  in Blog

We are bona fide chocolate lovers here at Oryana, but believe it or not, selling this confectionery at the co-op was controversial at one time in our history. Back in the very early days when the co-op was focusing on selling only the healthiest whole foods, a brouhaha ensued when the topic of stocking chocolate came up. The co-op was expanding its offerings to include packaged groceries, snack items, candy, etc. and chocolate was one of the potential newcomers on the list. Many members were against chocolate and preferred to only offer carob, a healthier chocolate substitute. Fortunately for us chocolate fiends, the pro-chocolate crowd held sway and we have been stocking the best fair-trade bars and cocoa ever since.

Trouble on the chocolate horizon

We recently learned that the cocoa industry is currently in crisis and as a result, the price of chocolate will most likely rise dramatically in the weeks ahead. This is very tough news for us chocoholics.

According to our source at Good Stuff Cacao, there are price wars going on between major chocolate companies and producers in South America. The major companies can no longer get what they need from Africa, which produces 80% of the world’s cocoa and where this commodity has always been cheap due to slave and child labor. The companies also didn’t pay the farmers enough for proper forest management and now all the trees are old, diseased, and no longer producing.

The situation does offer the opportunity to restructure the whole African chocolate industry, but it will take quite a few years, and in the meantime, these large conglomerates are seeking out the fair trade and organic markets in South America, which is where Good Stuff Cacao, Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate in Empire, Michigan, and many other sustainable chocolate businesses have sourced their cocoa. But the fair trade farmers who were not controlled politically or by cartels, are well educated in their industry and are not backing down from their much higher standards. And so, the price wars have begun. Other news sources claim that climate change, illegal mining in African cocoa plantations, and investor speculation are also contributing to the problem.

Grocer’s Daughter has been keeping close tabs on the situation and was fortunate to secure enough chocolate for the next 18 months, but at an increase of 37%. But no matter what happens, you can count on Grocer’s Daughter to always find the best, most ethical chocolate they can source, always traceable back to the farmers. And they are unwavering in their commitment to give voice to marginalized cacao farmers, especially in these turbulent times, as co-owner Jody Hayden explained.

While the upheaval in the chocolate world sorts itself out, you may see some changes in our chocolate product offerings in the coming months, as well as increased prices. We’ll keep you posted on this topic. You can also follow this story on the Grocer’s Daughter blog.