The awful Ebola Virus epidemic that has already infected thousands and has also killed thousands, may have its’ eyes set on a pieces of chocolate. With Halloween just 6 days away, there are also other international ramifications of the Ebola virus that are in play (not just the spread of the terrible disease from one international citizen to the other causing exposure to different nations). The worst Ebola outbreak in history is believed to have began in December 2013 in Guinea and has spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia. As of two days ago, there has been a reported number of cases over 10,000 and over 4900 deaths. While the disease may not directly effect the chocolate supply by infecting the supply, it can disrupt prices and the supply output.
Where does chocolate, Halloween, and international commerce come into play? Well, the Ebola virus is wrecking havoc in 3 countries named above and two of those nations (Liberia and Guinea) share a border with the Ivory Coast also known as Côte d’Ivoire. The Ivory Coast is the world’s largest producer of cacao (producing about 33% of the world’s supply), which is the raw ingredient found in candies such as M&M’s, Butterfingers, and Snickers. At this time of the year, this is the dawn of harvest season for cacao.
The distribution comes in the form of producing the cacao. In August, the Ivory Coast closed its borders with Guinea and Liberia. The Ivory Coast depends on migrant workers from these countries to go and collect the cacao from the farms. This, coupled with fears Ebola will find its’ way into the Ivory Coast and wreck the havoc on the people and health care system like it did in Guinea, Sierra Lone, and Liberia has caused market prices to go on a roller coaster.
The normal trading range for cocoa futures is between $2,000 to $2,7000 per ton. In September, that price jumped to $3,400 per ton and has fluctuated from $3,050 per ton to $3,155 per ton a couple of weeks ago. Many of the world’s chocolate makers (Nestle, Mars, Hershey, Godiva, and Ghirardelli to name a few) have noticed and are worried of the price spikes and the overall safety of the supply. Many have donated to the initiative Coca Industry Response to Ebola, run by the World Cocoa Foundation. Also, many companies that educated local farmers on how to best way to grow the crops to get the most yield, have included education of how to prevent the farmers from getting the virus and the precautions to stop further spread of the virus in West Africa.
Besides the horrific ramifications the virus has on humans anatomically, it also effects other sectors of life. Do you believe enough is being done to protect the world’s largest supply of cacao, which goes into many everyday guilty pleasures? What can other countries and international businesses do to keep the supply safe? Keep in mind the Ivory Coast has not reported a single case of Ebola.