chocolate and heartDid you know that last year, the world consumed more than four million tons of cocoa beans? That is a 32% increase in a decade.  That translates to approximately $74 billion annually, over $1 billion sold on Valentine’s Day.  I know I did my part to influence such an increase!  I even wear chocolate colored cotton, fleece and microfiber tights and leggings. I am not alone– so does Kate Middleton! kate middleton brownLooks like she is sporting some chocolate colored tights.

Apparently, the increase is due to the demand in emerging markets such as China, where the customers are getting wealthier and enjoying chocolate, one of the finer things in life.  Unfortunately, there is a supply and demand issue where the growers can’t keep up. Most cocoa is grown by small farmers in poor countries such as West Africa, where today, 2/3 of the world’s cocoa is grown.  Aging trees produce fewer beans and planting new trees is not an immediate solution since it takes 10 years for a cocoa tree to reach its peak. Be prepared to pay more for this “foodie favorite”, and to experience smaller candy bars or less quality.


There is evidence of cocoa beverages dating back to 1900 BC in the Central American countries where the beans first grew. The Mayan culture believed that the cocoa pods symbolized life and fertility. When the Aztecs conquered the Mesoamericans, cocoa beans were often used as currency and a beverage for the privileged.
When Columbus landed in Nicaragua in 1502, he was the first European to discover the cocoa beans and presented the results to Spain. Chocolate remained a “secret” in Spain for almost one hundred years until Anna of Austria, daughter of Philip 111 of Spain, shared the new beverage with her new husband, Louis X111 of France, as well as the French court. She “spilled the beans” and the French embraced chocolate as an aphrodisiac, inspiring erotic imagery in art and literature.
In the early 1800’s, cocoa plantations spread to the tropics in both hemispheres and the cost went down, making chocolate an affordable beverage.
In 1875, the first milk chocolate was introduced in Switzerland and by 1900 the Swiss took the leadership role in chocolate production. Consumption grew throughout Europe and spread to the United States.

Despite the rising prices, chocolate is more popular than ever and there is much interest in the health benefits of chocolate that suggest that dark chocolate(72% or greater) might possibly lower blood pressure and provide antioxidant benefits.  I totally buy into that.
This Valentine’s Day, if your loved one gives you chocolate, know how special you are and enjoy the many benefits of this “food for the gods!”!

Talk the talk

Be the first to start the conversation!

Leave a Reply:

Gravatar Image