The price of chocolate could be about to leap, as inefficient farming methods come up against spiking demand, new research has suggested. Something to think about as you're scoffing those Valentine's Day truffles...
The research, by Hardman Agribusiness, said western consumers now munch their way through 286 35g bars of chocolate a year. That's more than 10 kilograms each.
And while consumption levels among those in emerging markets is much lower, at between 100g-200g, the report warned there's a "growing appetite" in those markets.
But there's a problem, said Doug Hawkins, the report's author.
"The production of cocoa... currently relies on inefficient farming methodologies – methodologies that have not changed in hundreds of years.
"Unlike other tree crops that have benefitted from the development of modern high yielding cultivars and crop management techniques to realise their genetic potential, more than 90 per cent of the global cocoa crop is produced by smallholders on subsistence farms with unimproved planting material."
In other words: with outdated practices, small farmers may struggle to keep up with demand - so expect the price of your bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk or Galaxy Caramel to rise.
Cocoa-watchers might point out that its price fell five per cent last month, to £2,039 a tonne, and is now only marginally higher as concerns over China's slowdown and falling oil prices drove a huge sell-off in so-called soft commodities.
But the report suggested that's a short-term thing.
"While a billion or more new consumers of chocolate confectionery have entered the market across countries such as China, Indonesia, India, Brazil and the FSU – at the same time growth is sputtering. Simply put: demand for chocolate (and not just for Valentine’s Day) is outgrowing supply."