Get Your Chocolate While It’s Hot

You know all those studies that have come out in the past few years about the health benefits of dark chocolate, giving you an easy justification for your Valrhona habit? All that attention has triggered a run on the dark stuff, which could lead to a massive global shortage of cacao beans.

As the UK’s Independent reports (via Grub Street), prices of those beans are the highest they’ve been in years—up about 30 percent and climbing. And as hedge funds snap up huge chunks of available cocoa futures (a.k.a. beans) on the world commodity market, manufacturers may be left scrambling to find enough raw material to make all those 60- and 70-percent cacao bars we love so much. But the problem isn’t just greedy finance guys, the Independent argues:

Although speculators have been fingered for pushing the price of cocoa higher, British chocolate aficionados must share at least some of the blame for the run on the bean. Soaring demand for dark chocolate in the UK has put a rocket under the global price of cacao beans, compounding the impact of a severe drought in West Africa, which is home to much of the world’s cacao bean supplies.

Damn you, Britain! Just when I’d developed an undying devotion to these amazing cookies. Of course, we may not see prices rise at the store for several months, if at all—the large companies, like Hershey’s (which owns everything), usually keep up to six months’ worth of cacao on hand, so the price hike wouldn’t come into play until after they’d gone through their stash. What about the little guys, though? Your favorite $4.50 chocolate bar may get a whole lot pricier.

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