MadSci Network: General Biology

Re: Why will there be a chocolate shortage in a few years?

Date: Tue May 12 23:41:47 1998
Posted By: David Beck, MadSci Admin
Area of science: General Biology
ID: 894558019.Gb

It has to do with the cocoa plant, and the cocoa. First the cocoa plant. The cocoa plant takes two years to mature. This means that you can plant it one year in a good area, and then do to things like El Nino or changes in the local humidity and weather you now have a cocoa plant growing in a very poor area. The obvious result is that during years of rapid temperature shifts you will have a greater crop loss. Second the cocoa. The cocoa has oil in it, this means that the cocoa will eventually rot. To put this in perspective you can store wheat for twenty years, whereas you can not store cocoa for nearly that long. The obvious result is that your cocoa supply is more sensitive to a poor crop year than is wheat.

Now about the news. Lets deal with a little reality, there is no way to predict the effect of the weather on the cocoa crop. It may result in a good year, or a terrible year this year, and have quite the opposite affect two years from now. So why do they report that there will be a shortage in cocoa. MONEY. Look at it this way, you are looking to make some money, so you commission a dooms day report from some speculators that know about as much as the next person about the likelihood of a good crop five years from now, but you call them consultants. You publish your report. Now it is on the news and people see that cocoa is going to be in short supply so they go and by cocoa shares driving up the price of the market. Over the next few years you sell your cocoa shares at a high profit, easily covering the cost of the report from your favorite consultant. You may even commission another report to say things look all rosy now and drive the prices down and buy again.

The bottom line is, how are you going to predict the weather five years from now when the weather man, who does weather predicitions professionally, can't accurately predict the weather a week from now.


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