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Will Chocolate Become The New Caviar?

Dark chocolate.

A $1 bar of chocolate could cost $7 in 20 years.  iStockPhotos hide caption

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The Independent in Britain has a startling report for chocolate lovers:

John Mason, executive director and founder of the Ghana-based Nature Conservation Research Council, has forecast that shortages in bulk production (of cocoa) in Africa will have a devastating effect: "In 20 years chocolate will be like caviar. It will become so rare and so expensive that the average Joe just won't be able to afford it."

The report explains that African farmers are abandoning their cocoa farms for other products that are easier to grow and easier to monetize. Palm oil, for example, is in greater demand because it's being used as biofuel. So, as the cocoa trees die out, farmers are planting something else.

Cocoa is also grown in America — it can only be grown about ten degrees from the equator — but according to the piece that won't be much consolation because American countries will likely not be able to keep up with demand. China, the Independent quotes a chocolatier as saying, will join the western world in chocolate consumption.

Over the past six years, the price of cocoa has doubled. In 20 years, the report says, a $1 chocolate bar could be more like $7.

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