The world is running out of chocolate!

Just came across this strangely horrifying news: The world is running out of chocolate!

No, you say, there must be some mistake. Don’t chocolate producers keep things like this in check? Won’t the laws of supply and demand make sure we have all the chocolate our hearts desire?

That’s what I thought, but much of this can be blamed on ecological issues. West Africa, where more than 70 percent of the world’s chocolate is produced, has seen diminished production due to drier weather. On top of that, a fungal disease called “frosty pod” has wiped out between 30 and 40 percent of global production.

Add China’s rising demand for chocolate to the mix, and you get a very messy situation, indeed. The Washington Post reports:

Chocolate deficits, whereby farmers produce less cocoa than the world eats, are becoming the norm. Already, we are in the midst of what could be the longest streak of consecutive chocolate deficits in more than 50 years. It also looks like deficits aren’t just carrying over from year-to-year—the industry expects them to grow. Last year, the world ate roughly 70,000 metric tons more cocoa than it produced. By 2020, the two chocolate-makers warn that that number could swell to 1 million metric tons, a more than 14-fold increase; by 2030, they think the deficit could reach 2 million metric tons.

I don’t actually expect the world to run out of chocolate. Higher prices will lead to lower quantities demanded—especially, I think, in emerging economies (like China). But this could very well mean that bowls full of chocolate will soon become prohibitively expensive for the average person, like it was up until the Industrial Revolution.

If demand keeps growing, though, I’d expect to see at least some innovative attempts at boosting production, perhaps through more efficient cocoa farming. Who knows?

Read the full article for more information.