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World Chocolate Day - Why Chocolate Could Get More Expensive

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World Chocolate Day - Why Chocolate Could Get More Expensive

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This Year Chocolate Lovers Fear for Chocolate
As Chocolate Day 2019 approaches, fans of chocolate fear for the future of this long cherished treat. Chocolate is a hit with nearly all age groups, and it has become a giant industry around the world. The rising price of chocolate due to global warming and plant diseases could become an important retail trend to monitor in the future. 
Data from Illya King shows that the chocolate industry is now worth $83 billion worldwide. Demand is heaviest in Europe and North America, which, together, account for nearly 70% of the world's chocolate consumption.
What is World Chocolate Day? 
World Chocolate Day is an international holiday held annually on July 7th in celebration of chocolate. The event promotes the consumption of chocolate and other foodstuffs with chocolate in them. 
The occasion also provides an opportunity for retailers in the chocolate and desserts space to promote their merchandize to a receptive audience. Apart from chocolate retailers, others can also use consumer excitement around chocolate celebrations to promote their goods. 
Holidays and events can be the perfect time to boost your store’s reach and get in front of new customers. You can run social media campaigns or email campaigns around Chocolate Day to engage consumers based on their chocolate-related interest.
Celebration of Chocolate Day Around the World
There are numerous days on which groups around the world celebrate chocolate and its consumption. 
For example, in the US, according to a US Today report, National Chocolate Day is celebrated on October 28. This is in addition to other chocolate days listed by the National Confectioners Association, which include:
  • National Chocolate Caramel Day -  March 19th
  • National Chocolate Chip Day - May 15th
  • International Chocolate Day - September 13th
  • National Chocolate Day(there are 3 national chocolate days in the US) - December 28th
The UK does not have a National chocolate day, but participates in both World Chocolate Day on July 7th and International Chocolate Day on September the 13th. 
Meanwhile, in Mexico, according to El Universal September 2nd of each year is National Cacao and Chocolate Day. Other nations have their own days that commemorate chocolate throughout the year.
Why Chocolate Could Get More Expensive
While the advent of World Chocolate Day should normally be a time for festivity, experts have raised concern over the future of chocolate. In 2017, a report from Business Insider on the future of chocolate shook the industry.
The original report, released on December 31, 2017, claimed that chocolate was on track to go extinct in 40 years, due, in large part, to global warming. The report was subsequently picked up by US News, MarketWatch and other media sites, adding to the alarm over the future of chocolate.
Cacao Producing Countries Affected
Later, fact-checking sites like Snopes and Science Alert did some investigating into the accuracy of the report. They concluded that the Business Insider article was based on a faulty interpretation of the data. 
Snopes spoke with scientists with direct knowledge of the matter and found out that chocolate itself was not likely to go extinct. Rather, some of the regions in which cacao is currently being grown were likely to be impacted by climate change.
The countries listed include Ghana and Ivory Coast, which are the largest cacao producers. According to Dr. Ingrid Parker, a UC Santa Barbara evolutionary biologist, speaking to Snopes, “Cacao [cocoa] is grown in other places, like Australia, and it’s not even native to Africa (it comes from the New World).”
This will be good news to chocolate lovers who might worry about their ability to have chocolate at all. As nations like Ghana go through climate change, there is potential for cacao production to move to other regions that will still have the capability to grow the crop.
Chocolate Prices Might go Higher
Even if chocolate will still be around in 2050, cacao production will likely be disrupted by climate change. Moving production to other regions of the world does not eliminate the threat of climate change to the sustainability of chocolate production. 
According to NOAA, the real threat to cacao production is not warmer temperatures from global warming, but a lack of humidity. Other cacao producing nations include Indonesia and Malaysia. In Malaysia, for example, the cacao plant already has performed well at temperatures higher than those experienced by the plant in West Africa.
Rather, the real problem is the increase evapotranspiration as warmer temperatures lead to loss of soil moisture. It’s not evident that rainfall will increase along with the rise in temperature to enable the plants to survive.
As a result, chocolate supplies might be constrained in the years ahead. This is likely to lead to higher consumer prices unless a suitable solution is found.
The Other Lesser Known Threats to Chocolate
Climate change is not the only factor in why chocolate could get more expensive. A barely-mentioned part in the Business Insider story is the threat to cacao output from bacterial and fungal diseases. 
These constitute a long-lived threat to annual cacao production and are the focus of scientific efforts to produce cacao more sustainably.
Bacteria and Fungal Infections
The University of California, Berkeley and the University of California San Francisco have teamed up at the Innovative Genomics Institute to solve the problem of plant disease. 
This effort has seen them announce a project to create disease-resistant cacao plants, which will help alleviate annual losses to disease. 
At present, the plant suffers from incidences of untreatable disease. According to the International Cocoa Organization, as much as 30% to 40% of the crop is lost to diseases each year. These include vascular-streak dieback, witches’ broom, and frost pea pod.
Gene-Editing to the Rescue
Efforts by the Innovative Genomics Institute will see scientists editing the DNA of the cacao plant. Scientists at the Institute will use what’s known as CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing to make cacao DNA resistant to both viruses and fungal diseases.
The results, if successful, could not only improve crop yields, but have a positive impact on the lives of 40-50 million people around the world who rely on the industry.
Chocolate Faces Challenges
Chocolate Day on July 7th is an occasion to celebrate the delights of chocolate. This dessert food has grown into a significant, multi-billion dollar industry with many countries playing a part. However, challenges like climate change threaten traditional chocolate producing countries and nations where the cacao plant is grown. 
In addition, untreatable plant diseases pose other challenges to farmers each year. With new gene-editing systems, scientists hope to be able to stem the tide and allow cacao to flourish in the years ahead. 
The success of such interventions could enable the world to enjoy more, not less, chocolate, in the future.
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