❺ Solution of Chocolate shortage?

In 2013, the world ate 70,000 tons of chocolate more than it produced, marking the longest chocolate shortages in 50 years according to Bloomberg. And this chocolate shortage appears like it will only get worse as time goes on. Have we came up the solution yet? Yes we did. But for the most part, as a chocolate lover, you might not like it.

The Guardian suggested that we should invest the cocoa farmers for a profitable livelihood. Many farmers quit planting cocoa because they were not able to make enough money from cocoa to support their families. According to Who’s got the Power? Tackling imbalances in agricultural supply chains, retailers and branded manufacturers each take around 35-40% of the chocolate’s value, leaving the cocoa farmers themselves with just 5%. The retailers and manufacturers took most the revenues and leaving the farmers with minimal incomes. Farmers are the most important group of people in the production of chocolate. The Guardian believes that we can prevent chocolate shortage growing by increasing the cocoa farmers’ income. If growing cocoa trees become profitable, then more farmers will go back to planting cocoa.

Disease is also a factor of why some farmers stopped planting cocoa trees. As Time explained, a fungus known as frosty pod, has wiped out about 30 to 40 percent of the harvest. The difficulties have made many farmers turning to other more reliable plants like corn and rubber. Pam Williams, president of the Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA), who claims that chocolate manufacturers have already stopped focusing on flavor as they did before and instead they are focusing more on consistency and price. Believe it of not, nowadays many chocolates that we see in common store are either fake or made from beans from cacao tree clones like CCN-51.  CNN-51 is a short, squat plant that sprouts bright-red pods–is sturdy, disease-resistant, and prolific, producing four to ten times the yield of run-of-the-mill cacao trees. CNN-51 helped boosted the amount of cocoa beans to fulfill the demand in the production of chocolate, however, the taste is disappointing. As Ed Seguine who is a distinguished chocolate taster described, the new breed of chocolate tastes like “acidic dirt”. Some chocolate manufacturers found CCN-51 a great substitute for original cocoa beans. In fact , As National Geographic explain, About 95 percent of chocolate is made from “bulk beans,” generally inferior stuff which is heavily processed and beefed up with sugar and added flavors, such as vanilla. In addition, most of the Chocolate manufacturers claims that the consumers won’t be able to tell the differences when they used CCN-51 in their products.

I am happy that we have came up the some solution to solve chocolate shortage, at the same time,  I feel very confused about the chocolate that I am eating all the time. I think I forgot what is the real taste of chocolate.After I done so many research on chocolate, I found myself questioning about chocolate all the time. Is that chocolate?  Are they real? What are the ingredients? Is it mostly sugar? Are they using CCN-51? Is child labor involved in the production? What is chocolate?


❹ Child Labor and Chocolate

A large amount of the chocolate we are consuming today came from the cocoa fields in Africa. In fact, according to CNN, 76.8 percent of the coca beans that were exported from Africa during the year of 2008 and 2009. The average U.S. citizen eating over 11 pounds of chocolate (that’s about 120 chocolate bars) per year, however, there are very few of us are aware of the cruelties involved in the cacao production; Human trafficking, child slavery, and abusive labor practices are surprisingly under reported in the cacao industry.

The chocolate industry is worth an estimated $110 billion a year, and yet its key commodity is grown by some of the poorest people on the planet. In additional, the worst forms of child labor are happening in these chocolate industry. I was shocked and disappointed when I found out many of the famous and trusted chocolate brand are using child labor in their production.

Abdul is ten years old and he have been working in the cocoa field in Daloa, Ivory Coast for three years. Abdul’s job is crack the yellow cocoa pod into two pieces and snapping it open to reveal milky white cocoa beans. He said that he did not earn any wages for the job; all he is given is a little food, the torn clothes on his back, and an occasional tip from the farmer. Abdul did not chose to work in the field. Moreover, he does not want to work in the field; a stranger brought him across the border to the cocoa field after his mother died.

Yacou is fifteen and his job in the cocoa field is hacking the cocoa pods. His leg is covered with scars from crossing the cocoa fields.  “I wish I could go to school. I want to read and write,” said Yacou. But Yacou hasn’t spent a single day in school, and he has no idea how to leave the farm. Like many of the child labor in the cocoa fields, Abdul and Yacou do know the taste of chocolate; He does not know what cocoa is for.

There are many other child labor like Abdul who were brought to the field and forced to work. According to BBC, hundreds of thousands of children are being purchased from their parents for a pittance, or in some cases outright stolen, and then shipped to the Ivory Coast, where they are sold as slaves to cocoa farms. These children usually age from twelve to fourteen years-old, sometimes even younger, are forced to do hard manual labor 80 to 100 hours a week. They are paid nothing; they are barely fed, beaten regularly, and are often viciously beaten if they try to escape. Most will never see their families again.

My heart is broken after reading articles about child labor in the cocoa field. I was shocked by the fact that the children in the cocoa field are the nearest people in the world to chocolate, but they don’t even know what cocoa is for. I think I need to rethink before buying chocolate from now on.

❸ Fake Chocolate?

Believe it or not, some of the chocolate that we are consuming today are not real chocolate. While I was researching for people’s reactions about chocolate shortage I found something very interesting:  some claim that cocoa shortage will not effect as more as people think it would, due the fact that chocolate are not made with real cocoa. As I research more, I found out that one of my favorite chocolate brand is a part of the fake chocolate.  It was very surprising and disappointing  for me, because I did not know people nowadays are faking chocolates.

Did you notice that some of the chocolate change their descriptions from chocolate to chocolate candy? To my understanding of Hershey’s is that during their manufacturing process the cocoa solids are separated from the cocoa butter. These cocoa solids are dehydrated and become cocoa powder. To form chocolate candy bars, the cocoa powder is then combined with some of the cocoa butter along with some other ingredients. So the “chocolate” is disassembled then re-assembled into a new form. However, Hershey, one of my favorite chocolate brand, has changed the recipes for some of its products using lower-cost vegetable oils instead of cocoa butter. People said the removal of cocoa butter affects the taste and cheapens the products.

Hershey changed the labels on some of their products from chocolate to chocolate candy or chocolaty; they can no longer legally call products that made without cocoa butter chocolate. Hershey spokesman Kirk Saville claimed: “Consumers love this, and people prefer the change”. At the annual shareholders meeting this year, president and CEO David J. West said Hershey received fewer consumer complaints about product quality after they changed the formula. Personally, I found this very ridiculous. Hershey simply kicked back the reasons of producing fake chocolate back to the consumers; what they were saying was that why are they producing fake chocolate? Because all the consumers like the fake ones more! Cybele May, who runs the Candy Blog, followed closely about the fake chocolate from Hershey.  May contacted Hershey to ask about what exactly is in their products and all they told her was ” this bar is proprietary and cannot be shared”. She claimed that Hershey betrayed consumers by changing the formula without telling them.

Although this is a seven years old news, I still believe many chocolate consumers did not notice the fact that what we are eating are not real. Some people believe that chocolate is good for their health and consume it for a healthier body. I am pretty sure that fake chocolates do not have as much benefit as the real chocolate.

On the other hand, I think the fact that fake chocolate are using less cocoa beans might slows down the effect of chocolate shortage in the world. By decreasing the demand of cocoa beans, farmers are able to have more time to grow cocoa trees. But as a consumer, I rather pay more for the real chocolate than eating something that is made up with something else.

❷ Cocoa tree farmers

Have you ever wonder how chocolate is made? People that are chocoholic like me usually do not familiar with the production of chocolate. I always wonder how chocolate is made when I was little. I knew that chocolate was made from cocoa beans but I did not know the real processes of making them. I noticed that there was a cocoa bean shortage going on instead of chocolate shortage after while researching the production of chocolate.

The journey of most chocolates in the world starts in Ivory Coast, West Africa. Farmers grow cocoa trees on small farms. They have to take good care of cocoa trees because cocoa trees are very sensitive plants.Farmers must protect trees from the wind and sun. They must also fertilize the soil and watch for signs of distress including attack from pests and disease. Will good care, Cocoa trees can take up to five years before it produces cacao pods and it can continue to produce pods year round until it is 25 or 30 years old. Cacao trees grow thousands of flowers on their trunks and branches every year. Only a small percentage of these flowers will actually produce a cacao pod. There are about 30 to 50 cocoa beans in each pod. These beans are what ultimately get transformed into cocoa powder or chocolate.  Many cocoa tree farmers have been giving up on their plantations because of  the aging trees that yield fewer pods and the arduous process of harvesting. They claim that they are not earning enough money from growing cocoa and some claim that the government is not helping them. Some farmers did not want to give up their family tradition of cocoa planting but they had no choice financially; they are choosing between family tradition and hunger.  These cocoa tree farmers thought that their futures of  planting cocoa are miserable and hopeless. Even younger generation planning to plant cocoa trees is not encouraged by the older generation in some countries. Many cocoa tree farmers switched into planing rubber. On the other hand,  some farmers of other plants in some countries saw the growing price of cocoa beans and started to plant cocoa trees. They believe the price of coca beans is going to increase and will make them a lot of money.

To my opinion, the farmers have the power in chocolate shortage. Cocoa beans that cocoa trees produce are the most important source in the production of chocolate. If there are not enough cocoa beans, then how can we make more chocolate? I think farmers have power to control the chocolate shortage. Although the government have the power to fix the price of cocoa beans, it is up to the farmers to decide whether to spent a few years waiting for cocoa beans to grew up or to plant other things that can bring income every year. To be honest, if I was a cocoa tree farmer, I would give up on my old cocoa trees and plant something that brings me revenue annually.

❶ History of Chocolate

Chocolate is a part of human life; it is a friend to cheer you up when you are depress; it can be a meal if you do not have time to eat; it is a great dessert no matter how you make it; it is a way to express love to our love ones. Do you like chocolate? No matter how hard your try to keep yourself away from sweets, you must have eaten some kind of chocolate products. Chocolate products are everywhere in our life whether you are a kid or a grown adults. Not only are people used to eating chocolate, but also it is gotten used in art, fashion and beauty and more, people are also making chocolate mask in order to solve skin problems. Despite the fact that we are seeing chocolates everywhere everyday, did you ever wonder where chocolate comes from? Do you know how chocolate was discovered? Let me bring you back to the beginning of the story of chocolate.

The story of chocolate begins with a tree, a small tree of the tropical understory during hundreds and hundreds years ago. Cacao beans were discovered by the Mayans and Aztecs. They mixed grounded cocoa beans with seasonings, spices and water to concoct a drink called “Xocoatll”.  “Xocoatl” was a  drink that Mayans and Aztecs saw it as a gift from gods. In 1519, the Aztec emperor Montezuma served some to his new guest, the conquistador Hernando Cortes.  The Aztecs thought that Cortes was the reincarnation of an exiled god-king. Instead, he had come calling to find rumored Aztec gold, and within three years he brought down the Aztec empire. Cortes brought cacao home to Spain later in the 1520s. He adapted the recipe by adding sugar for a better taste. Soon it became a fashionable drink enjoyed by the rich people in Spain. But cocoa beans were in short supply so the special chocolate drink recipe was a closely guarded secret for nearly a century. As the secret of chocolate got out, cacao use spread across Europe. The first English chocolate house which was very similar to today’s coffee houses opened in London in 1657. In 1847, Fry & Sons in England introduced the first “eating chocolate,” but did not attract much attention due to its bitter taste. In 1874, a famous Swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter experimented with various mixtures to balance chocolates bitter flavor, and eventually found out the best match of chocolates — milk. This changed everything and chocolate’s acceptance after that was quick and enthusiastic. Then chocolate slowly evolved to what we have today.

Today, Many people rely on chocolate products to give then energy and good mood, however we are facing a chocolate shortage. Can you imagine the rest of your life without chocolate? No more chocolate, no more chocolate cookies, no more hot cocoa, no more chocolate cakes, and no more chocolate sundaes? For people who are chocoholic like me, it will be a completely nightmare. I believe we should all care about this issue.