As we tuck in and enjoy some Easter Eggs at this time of year, perhaps we should spare a thought from where all that cocoa actually comes from. The cocoa tree Theobroma cacao is native to the tropical rain-forests of Central and South America. However, the world’s top two producers today are the Ivory Coast and Ghana, both in west Africa. These two countries alone account for over half of the World’s total production of cocoa.
Cocoa has an extensive and ancient history first used by the pre-Colombian societies in Central America with evidence dating as far back as 1900 BC. Several ancient texts list recipes for cocoa drinks with recipes including maize, chilli, vanilla and honey.
Today, chocolate is enjoyed on a truly global scale. With every conceivable recipe and form and flavour combination to satisfy all appetites, cocoa has become a globally available commodity that is indulged in.
However, the world wide availability of chocolate faces an uncertain future. In 2012 the then head of Mars Chocolate UK stated “The global cocoa sector may suffer a one-million tonne shortage by 2020 because of the increasing economic and environmental pressures on cocoa farms; it’s just not sustainable.”
The surge in demand globally for chocolate in developing countries such as India and China; climate change; political issues in the west Africa, and the current Ebola crisis further compounds the issue.
The future of cocoa remains to be seen, but as demand increases and outstrips supply then chocolate may become a luxury food akin to caviar. So spare a thought this Easter time to fully appreciate the rich, indulgent and delicious yet affordable chocolate we all know and love.