Chocolate comes from W. Africa, so does ebola. What this means for Halloween.

2012-08-08 09.20.09

Cocoa farmers I met in Ivory Coast

First off, as ebola madness grips the world . . .


I was in grade school when the AIDS epidemic blew up in the 80s. My brother convinced me that one got AIDS by sitting on a toilet seat at truck stops after a trucker with AIDS had pooped. Seriously. Granted, at the time I didn’t really know much about sex or intravenous drug use, so I was easily convinced. The thing I don’t know is if my brother made this up or if he actually heard it somewhere. I the ebola fear is any indicator, I’m thinking he could’ve actually heard this.

Yesterday on the news I heard that a school in Cleveland closed today – entirely close, no teachers, no students – because one of the teachers had flown on the same airlines as the nurse from Dallas who was recently diagnosed with Ebola. To clarify: she wasn’t on the same flight as the woman, she was just on the same airline, and they canceled school! Fear of truck stop toilet seats seems rational compared to that.

Anyhow, we’re talking about chocolate. Wait, that was an awkward transition. Oh, well.

Ivory Coast accounts for half of cocoa production. Lump in Ghana and they account for two-thirds of global cocoa production. Neither country has currently been impacted by the ebola outbreak, yet, but they neighbor Liberia and Guinea which have. Many of the workers on cocoa farms come from Liberia and Guinea, but Ivory Coast has closed its borders to both countries. The biggest harvest season of the year begins in October, so there will be fewer workers and the cocoa could rot on the tree. Also, if ebola was to enter Ivory Coast or Ghana, who knows how the farmers would react. There is speculation that they could abandon farms in impacted areas.

All of this means that cocoa and chocolate prices are on the rise, and that cheap Halloween candy could be a bit more expensive. (Of course it should be more expensive to begin with since most farmers earn about one-third of one penny per chocolate bar and can barely support their families. You can read more about that here – Craft Chocolate Sourced and Produced in Africa Fairly and Directly.)

Read All Things Considered coverage on the impact of ebola on cocoa or listen to it below . . .


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