For ages, the Cassandras have predicted a dark chocolate future. They are afraid that tomorrow, the Chinese will eat too much: it is estimated that a Chinese will consume one kilo per year within ten years, against only 100 grams today. For comparison, the French consume them ... seven kilos per year. In short, Chinese consumption would put the market under pressure and cause prices to soar. For now, only the rich Chinese gourmets are fans of the chocolate square.
>> READ ALSO - Behind the cocoa decor: "In Côte d'Ivoire, production is at the expense of the rainforest"
If the price of cocoa has soared by 20% since last August, it is mainly because the two main producing countries, Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, have agreed to impose a kind of OPEC cocoa in order to stabilize courses which have an annoying tendency to make yoyo. The two countries seek to guarantee a better income for planters. The message seems well received by industrialists who know that if small farmers can no longer live on cocoa, the chocolate could disappear.
Impact of global warming
Cocoa cultivation is one of a kind. Cocoa trees are mainly planted on very small family plots, two to three hectares, scattered in the forest, under the control of chocolate multinationals such as Mars, Nestlé or Ferrero. The tree is very fragile, prone to diseases, and the new plants do not give beans for several years. It is also sensitive to the vagaries of the weather, which raises fears of an impact of global warming on future production.
>> Find all of Jean-Pierre Montanay's chronicles in replay and podcast here
If the price of cocoa continues to rise at the same rate in the years to come, two chocolate markets could arise. On the one hand, that of dark chocolate (at least 43% cocoa), more and more expensive, which could become a luxury product. An addicted clientele would then appear, ready to offer high-end tablets, certified "fair trade" and organic, made from rare varieties, great cocoa vintages as in wine.
On the other side, there is an industrial, mass product, which can no longer even obtain the name "chocolate". It will contain less and less cocoa to remain affordable and more and more synthetic flavors to still have a little taste. In history, it is the consumer who could be chocolate.