According to Delish.com, during the Valentine’s Day season, Americans will purchase more than 58 million pounds of chocolate (third after Halloween and Easter, but a lot nonetheless). Although Americans may be famous as eaters, it barely makes the top 10 for country chocolate consumption; Switzerland takes the top spot with 22 pounds of chocolate per person each year.
But for chocolate lovers like me, there hasn’t been the best news in recent months. Chocolate manufacturer Hershey’s reached an agreement with a US food import company that keep certain British chocolate products—like Cadbury Dairy Milk—off US shelves. Americans are up in arms about their favorite British chocolates disappearing because they claim the US versions of these treats simply don’t taste as good. The reasons for the ban of two UK Nestlé products: “its distinctive orange, yellow and brown packaging too closely resembles that of Hershey’s line of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups; the latter because it infringes on the trademark of the York peppermint pattie, a chocolate-coated mint confection also made by Hershey’s.” This may not be the most important social issue of our time, but the right to chose between chocolate candies seems pretty important to me. Who gave Hershey the right to bully international chocolate providers from our country?
Either way, we may not be snacking on chocolate for too much longer—during Valentine’s Day or otherwise. Mars, Inc. and Barry Callebaut (two of the world’s huge chocolate makers) announced in November that we are in a chocolate deficit; last year, the world ate about 70,000 metric tons more cocoa than was produced. This is a product of dry weather in African chocolate-growing regions and the rise of a fungal disease. This has been causing rising prices since 2012 (when the world first started eating more than it was producing). As a chocoholic, I plan to keep my eye on prices and stock pile when necessary. If we’re going to have a global chocolate shortage, you can bet I’ll be the one with some hidden in my dresser drawer.
But all joking aside, is the constantly increasing consumerism of Valentine’s Day and other holidays directly influencing this chocolate shortage? Probably. Maybe this year I’ll tell my loved ones to skip the candy, for the sake of a chocolate-filled future.