Chocolate may go extinct by 2050, and wine shortages will drive prices up this year
A chocapocalypse could be upon us.
Scientists are predicting that chocolate may become nearly impossible to grow in the coming years due to hotter temperatures and less rain in climates where cacao plants are raised. Researchers estimate that by 2050, chocolate lovers will have to find an alternative sweet to satisfy their cravings, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Climate change is the culprit. Cocoa beans can only be cultivated in rainforest regions within 20 degrees above the equator in humid weather conditions in nitrogen-rich soil. Approximately half of the world’s chocolate is made in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, where the plants thrive at up to 850 feet above sea level protected from wind, but in the next 32 years, researchers say that rising temperatures could move the optimal cultivation zone up to 1,500 feet.
What’s more, already demand sometimes exceeds supply: In 2013, the world consumed around 70,000 metric tons more cocoa than it produced. And in the coming years, the supply of chocolate may deplete more and more, even before the possible extinction, causing a sharp rise in prices. Major chocolate companies like Mars, Inc, the makers of M&Ms and Snickers, predict the price of chocolate could double by 2020.
To combat this impending chocolate crisis, a team from UC Berkeley is working with Mars to invest $1 billion into ways to fight climate change. Berkeley scientists hope to develop stronger cacao plants that won’t die out at their current altitude using a tool called CRISPR, technology that lets scientists tinker with DNA strands to alter produce.
Food shortages aren’t uncommon: “Shortages depend on many different factors. generally it’s climate, political instability in certain regions and supply and demand,” says Chrystalleni Stivaros, chocolate industry analyst at IBIS World, tells Moneyish.
And at least one will affect us in the coming months: Wine. This year’s wine crop is slated to be scarce following the horrific wildfires in California coupled with extreme weather in France, Italy and Spain where much of the world’s vino comes from. One analyst told People this has already lead to prices on some varietals jumping 10%. And experts say that in 2018, prices may jump further.
“Wine prices could go up. I doubt we’ll see a doubling of the price tag, but there could be a single digit percentage increase of a couple dollars. It would be hard for Sonoma wines to double their prices and still be competitive,” says Darren Seifer, a food consumption industry analyst at NPD market research group.
Last fall, the resurgence of a deadly fungus threatened the banana crop and around 230,000 plants were destroyed with farms losing 15,000 plants per week, or $236,000. “We’re still seeing consumers eating more fruits, and bananas are certainly a big part of that. Consumers can expect pricing pressure on bananas this year,” Seifer said.
In the past decade, major food shortages caused spikes in prices. In the fall, a chicken wing shortage threatened football fans tailgating across the country as wholesale prices for wings climbed by nearly 20% to a record $2.09 a pound in August, The Wall Street Journal reported. From 2011 to 2012, a national drought drastically reduced crop yields of corn and soybeans causing feed prices to rise 9.5% and poultry production to decline dramatically as a result. This year, however, experts say the price of jumbo chicken wings has gone down. Urner Barry’s quotation for jumbo wings are currently $1.54 a pound, that compares to $1.78 last year.
Last September, restaurants in Chicago were paying as much as $100 for cases of avocados that usually sell for between $68 to $72 due to high demand and a supply shortage in Mexico and California. California’s avocado season resumed in November, but supplies reportedly won’t hit their peak until March.
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