The Impact of Climate Change on Chocolate

Kirsten Long

Worldwide chocolate sales are in the 98-billion (U.S) dollar range. There are a lot of chocolate lovers out there. Cocoa has been produced for at least three millennia; however, that long-standing reign is in jeopardy and the finger is being pointed at climate change.

Chocolate is made from cocoa beans that grow on the cacao tree and require a very specific and stable climate. The temperature, humidity, and rain in a forest region 20 degrees north and south of the Equator make a perfect environment for these trees.
Idea Stations reports that the United States consumes over 18 billion dollars worth of chocolate each year, which accounts for 18 percent of the worlds’ chocolate. They receive the cocoa beans from places like Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana; places responsible for 65 percent of global cocoa production. However, there is concern that climate change is damaging their rain forests and threatening cocoa beans.

Some climate experts contend that human emissions of heat trapping gases have been warming the planet creating problems with climate change and chocolate. This is a huge concern for chocolate producers since the high temperatures cause a loss of moisture through plants. Water is being squeezed out of the cacao trees and rain forests are being starved as a result of global temperatures rising.

Research has suggested that by using sustainable farming we can prevent the elimination of chocolate. By using agroforestry and placing trees around the cacao plants, it could produce more shade, protect against acute temperatures, regulate pests, and even improve the fertility of the soil.

As stated recently by the Weather Network, in 2017, Mars incorporated pledged one billion dollars in efforts to reduce carbon emissions, as well as improve company sustainability. It is expected that other companies will follow in their footsteps and introduce sustainable initiatives to avoid a cocoa production crash.