You may have noticed over the last year an increasing number of articles about the possibility of a chocolate shortage - so what's the story, do we need to panic!?
The problem lies in the spread of chocolate fever across the world. Currently in China the average consumer eats just over two chocolate bars A YEAR, however it looks as though the western chocolate addiction might be spreading east with sales increasing by 50% between 2006 and 2010. Prices are determined by supply and demand, if demand increases quicker than farmers can produce cocoa then prices will also increase. This increase in demand from China as well as poor harvests means that prices are likely to increase by 14% over the next year!
Added to the increased demand, we are also seeing a decrease in cocoa production. Poor pay, and conditions, for cocoa farmers has meant many are moving into different industries that will produce greater rewards - rubber and palm oil for example. Fairtrade ensures farmers receive better prices for their cocoa, improved environmentally friendly production methods and their personal development is supported as well as supporting the local communities. So try and buy Fairtrade whenever you can.
So the good news is that although demand is increasing and supply decreasing, this is unlikely to produce a chocolate shortage as there is still a plentiful supply of cocoa beans from previous years. As populations around the world increase we will always need to be mindful of sustainable crops - cocoa isn't the only one that could be under threat. But for the time being, at least, we shouldn't notice a difference in the chocolate that we can buy in the UK.
Rumour has it that almonds are also on the way out. Over 80% of the worlds almonds are produced in California, where over recent years there has been a severe draught in this region resulting in a reduction in almond production.
Almonds have received a great deal of attention recently regarding their fantastic health benefits, helping to keep you feeling full as well as being a great source of protein. To find out more about the health benefits of nuts click here to read our nutritionist Janets' guide with all the facts. The increased awareness of the health benefits has resulted in an increased demand, so it's a similar story to chocolate - increased demand and a decreased supply have resulted in a price increase. The poor harvest for almonds is a real problem but with more and more suppliers growing these nutritious little nuts, hopefully we won't notice too much of a problem here. Prices may well go up so why not try other varieties of nuts too?
No food has an everlasting supply so although you don't need to go out and bulk buy your favourite chocolate bar just yet, always try and think about sustainability when you do your weekly food shop and look for the FairTrade logo on products!
Nutritionist Emma Brown, MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.