What might climate change mean for chocolate?

What will happen to cocoa trees?
13 August 2019


Pouring cocoa beans into a sack by hand.



What might climate change mean for chocolate?


Nadia Radzman, Cambridge University food security expert, tucked in to this question from James...

Nadia - So climate change affects rainfall and temperature. And then occurrences of drought and flooding. So these environmental changes would affect plant productivity and in terms of cocoa trees this would affect the fruit production. And since the seeds said the ones that we use for chocolate this would affect chocolate production too. So if we look at the major producers of cocoa, they have tropical climates. So changes in rainfall and temperature would affect food production. Sadly, that would reduce chocolate production too.

Chris - Will not some bits of the world's surface become more amenable to growing chocolate? So although some areas won't be so good - Brazil could be in trouble as a big producer, some parts of  Africa - but could other areas become much more propitious for a cacao plant? And then before we know it they become the chocolate Mecca?

Nadia - I'm not so sure about that, because with climate change you also would get a boom of pests and pathogens at different parts of the world too. So that would have also affect the yield of cocoa trees and the other thing that we need to consider is if we look at the farmers that are growing these trees, most of them are small scale farmers. They really need to have high productivity of these trees in order to sustain their livelihood.

Chris - So the bottom line, are we worried about chocolate and climate change?

Nadia - We should be I think.

Chris - So good time to buy Chocolate Cocoa Futures then, the price is going to rocket is that what you’re saying?

Nadia - Or we can do something about it! Do a lot more studies on how to prevent this from happening, and we could also reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.


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