African farmers have warned that the world will be left without sweets. Low yields of cocoa beans are expected this year. The authorities of Côte d'Ivoire said that the current agricultural season will close with a significant deficit. Due to the drought, farmers will collect at 100 thousand
tons of cocoa beans less than last year. Indonesia made a similar forecast. Confectioners are forced to change the recipe for desserts. Details are with Svetlana Belova.
Almost every season, farmers complain about the poor cocoa harvest. They refer to global warming, drought, or vice versa - excess rainfall. Against the backdrop of a decline in production, global consumption of chocolate is only growing. Mainly due to Asians. Over the past five to six years in this region, the demand for delicacies has grown by 30%. However, the threat of a shortage of sweets is greatly exaggerated, says Vladislav Kochetkov, president of the Finam investment holding.
“For the largest producers, on the contrary, it is more profitable to increase plantations, because the world population still continues to grow, incomes continue to grow, and we can expect that the demand for products made from cocoa beans, the same chocolate, will also increase,” - considers Kochetkov.
Raw materials for the future chocolate are grown in 45 countries, but 90% of the global volume is accounted for by only eight countries: Indonesia, Nigeria, Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, Malaysia, Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire. Manufacturers are aware of the fact that the sweet tooth in the Western world depends on them, and they take advantage of it. Exchange prices for cocoa beans, butter and powder are growing by 15-20% annually. The plantations are not developed on purpose, the deficit is created artificially, the commercial director of the company "V Chocolate" Alexander Barabash does not exclude.
“Why can't we grow more cocoa beans? A question that torments everyone who works in this industry. Maybe it’s a policy, maybe it’s easier for them to get the same profit from a smaller volume, simply selling at a higher price. Nobody knows the correct answer, ”Barabash said.
In Russia, the worldwide rise in the price of cocoa components also coincided with a sharp drop in the national currency. Manufacturers of confectionery products cannot proportionally increase prices for the final product, otherwise sweets will become an elite delicacy, accessible to few, with weak sales volumes. We have to get out, explained the founder of the Fresh Cacao chocolate factory Andrei Khachaturyan.
“Producers keep prices either by reducing their margins, or by reducing the most expensive components - cocoa butter and cocoa liquor. Substitution occurs at the expense of similar cheaper components, the so-called cocoa butter equivalents, a cheaper powder. Naturally, on the market, many producers of the middle and lower middle segment in terms of quality have already changed the recipe, adjusting it to the economy, ”Khachaturyan emphasized.
One of the most common pastry chefs' tricks is to reduce product weight. For example, Mars and Snickers bars produced by British factories traditionally weighed 62,5 grams, and then “dried up” to 58 grams. Minus 7% - invisibly for those with a sweet tooth, and big savings for the manufacturer. At the same time, the price of the lightweight candy remained the same: Mars cost 37p, and Snickers - 41p. By the way, now the classic versions of both bars already weigh 50 grams. The manufacturer explained his actions with concern for the health and figure of consumers. The authorities of several Central American countries have decided to focus on the cultivation of the chocolate tree. Thus, farmers in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras were advised to abandon coffee crops in favor of cocoa - the cultivation of chocolate plantations is three times cheaper than coffee.