The price of chocolate is predicted to rise with the onset of the year’s biggest candy-consuming holidays: Halloween and Christmas. Because most of the world’s cocoa is produced in West African countries, chocolate production is being affected by the outbreak of the Ebola virus in Liberia and Guinea.
According to NPR, half of the world’s cocoa, a key ingredient in chocolate, is produced in Ivory Coast and Ghana, which are next door to Liberia and Guinea. Since Ivory Coast has shut its borders to human traffic from the Ebola-affected countries, migrant workers from Liberia and Guinea are unable to cross the border and take part in the harvest season for cocoa, which lasts from October to March.
Normally, chocolate companies send agronomists during this time of the year to West Africa to count trees and pods and use mathematical modeling to predict the output of cocoa for the year, which sets prices. However, due to the Ebola virus, many of the pod-counters chose not to go to the region this year.
— POLITICO Pro (@POLITICOPro) October 10, 2014
“The speculators who agree to set prices for raw cocoa don’t know how the Ebola epidemic is going to affect the harvest and production of it,” said Virginia Whetstone, owner of Whetstone Chocolate, in an interview with FOX 31 in Denver.
The chocolate industry had already been experiencing a decline in supply due to the waning productivity of West African cacao trees in recent years. The spread of the Ebola virus in the region has reportedly put even more pressure on chocolate production.
— POPSUGAR Food (@POPSUGARFood) October 14, 2014
The current price of cocoa is at $3,118 per metric ton, but, according to Financial Post, an executive from World Cocoa Foundation recently told reporters in Copenhagen that it could more than double to $6,000 or $8,000 if cocoa farms don’t start producing more. Thus, chocolate companies are reportedly participating in various efforts to stabilize the supply of cocoa to meet the steadily increasing demand for chocolate all over the world.