The Ebola outbreak in West Africa threatens to disrupt the world’s chocolate supply.
There’s no need to panic quite yet, but if the disease spreads to the Ivory Coast from Liberia, Guinea, or Sierra Leone, there could be a problem.
At a press conference in Switzerland today, the CEO of Nestlé, Paul Bulcke, said that the company is on “high alert” for Ebola-related disruptions, according to Bloomberg. There are no Nestlé factories in the three countries where the outbreak is concentrated, but neighbouring Ivory Coast is the source of 40% of the world’s cocoa supply. Ghana, just to the east, is where the company’s central and west African unit is headed.
Bulcke also said he expects a rough fourth quarter for the company (in part, but not entirely because of, Ebola in West Africa)
Nestlé donated 100,000 Swiss francs to help fight Ebola earlier this week, as part of a larger $US600,000 donation by the World Cocoa Foundation, which also includes companies like Hershey, Mars, and Ghirardelli.
Cocoa prices have risen a little over 15% since October of last year. They spiked in September, ostensibly over Ebola fears, but have since came back down to early September levels.
NPR’s Gregory Warner had the foresight to ask the major question that this brings up for consumers: should you stock up on chocolate bars now? George Edward, head of group research for the pan-African Ecobank, told him, theoretically yes, but practically no — chocolate goes bad too quickly to be able to stock up on it. You may just have to pay more for your daily fix.