When ploughing through the armies of chocolate Easter bunnies at the supermarket year after year, one might start to think that chocolate falls from the sky, ready and waiting for the next festivity.
The industry is booming, and we keep on loving chocolate: Commercial reports state that by 2030, chocolate companies will need to increase production by 50% if we want to keep up with a runaway population growth.
As a chocolate producer I work with two cacao plantations in Ecuador, where we allow cacao to grow naturally. We do not disturb ecosystems with chemicals, and pay fair prices to the farmers. I can assure you: Chocolate does not fall from the sky. In recent years, temperatures on the plantation rose by almost 4 ºC, and cacao pod yield has dropped by 30%. Furthermore, longer rain periods, earthquakes and mosquito borne diseases do not only negatively affect the crops, but also farmers and their families. In short: Climate Change has an effect on chocolate and beyond.
Half the earth’s wildlife has been lost since 1970, whilst commercial agriculture expands over half the world’s surface, suffocating essential ecosystems. We have the worst CO2 emissions ever, and temperatures are set to only increase further. It does not take a genius to figure out that my family’s future in sustainable cacao farming is not the most secure – which gives me one more reason to work even harder.
I was never really good at maths, but it seems pretty clear to me that these numbers do not quite go together:
- With a 4 degrees temperature increase, we already see 30% less cacao
- Temperature is expected to rise further
- We are supposed to beef up production by another 50%
If you want your loved ones to be able to enjoy cacao and a wonderfully diverse ecosystem for long, my advice is: Be wise when choosing your chocolate gifts this upcoming Easter.
Images: screenshots aus Lernert & Sander’s “Chocolate Bunny”