Cocoa Tree-derived Ingredients in Jeopardy

Nov 12, 2010 | Contact Author | By: Katie Schaefer
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Title: Cocoa Tree-derived Ingredients in Jeopardy
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Ingredients produced from the cocoa tree may be in short supply and more expensive in 20 years, according to the Independent, which reported that cocoa farmers in West Africa are abandoning their crops due to little financial incentive as well as nutrient-depleted soil.

According to the report, a large majority of cocoa farmers are located in West Africa, and these farmers must replant the cocoa trees as they die from pest problems, often moving to a new area and waiting three to five years for the new crop to mature. For this extra work, the farmers are given little incentive from the multinationals that control the market; in addition, there is no incentive for the next generation of cocoa farmers to produce the tree.

These farmers are reportedly having a difficult time maintaining a high enough level of cocoa to become profitable. The result: They abandon their cocoa farming, which has led to the doubling of cocoa prices in the last six years, the highest level in three decades.

In addition, cocoa farmers in West Africa are facing more than monetary challenges. According to the report, nutrients in their soil are becoming depleted. In addition, they have competition for agricultural space with other commodities in high demand such as palm oil.

Cocoa crops are also produced in Indonesia, although weather devastation in this area has led to more expensive cocoa prices. The cocoa tree is also produced in South America, the Caribbean and Asia, but experts find it unlikely that these areas can satisfy the chocolate demand, which is increasing faster than chocolate production, leading to an unsustainable crop.

There is light at the end of the tunnel for those that rely on cocoa-derived ingredients to produce personal care products. Some believe the cocoa crisis could be averted through Fair Trade initiatives, where the value of farming is delivered to the farmers and their communities.

Although the crisis may be averted, according to the report, most cocoa experts agree that the price of raw materials derived from the cocoa tree will continue to rise. For the personal care formulator, this may include Theobroma cacao (Cocoa) Butter, Theobroma cacao (Cocoa) Extract, Theobroma cacao (Cocoa) Fruit Powder, Theobroma cacao (Cocoa) husk, Theobroma cacao (cocoa) leaf cell extract, Theobroma cacao (cocoa) seed powder and Theobroma cacao (cocoa) shell powder.