Will The World Run Out Of Chocolate & Cocoa Beans? And, How Much Is Left?

In the guide below, we discuss whether we might run out of chocolate and cocoa beans, how much might be left, along with other information relevant to these queries.


Summary – The World’s Chocolate & Cocoa Bean Resources

Where Does Chocolate Come From, & What’s It Made Of?

One of the primary ingredients used in chocolate is cocoa, which comes from the cacao beans/seeds of the cacao plant


Some Types Of Chocolate Use More Cocoa Than Others

Dark chocolate for example uses more cocoa than milk chocolate


How Many Cacao Plants Are Left In The World?

Recent estimates indicate there’s still millions of acres of cacao plants/crops producing cocoa beans worldwide


Are Cacao Plants Going Extinct, Or At Risk Of Depletion?

It doesn’t appear as though cacao plant numbers will drastically decrease in the short term.

We list some of the factors that might impact cacao plant and crop numbers in the future in the guide below


Global Cocoa Production

In the last few decades, several sets of data indicate that global cocoa production has increased annually and trended up over time

Cocoa production has increased significantly since 1980/81


Global Cocoa Consumption

We don’t have any current data on global cocoa consumption, however, some reports indicate that there’s been years recently where consumption has been in the tens of thousands of metric tons more than production for that year


Global Cocoa Supply

In 2021, some reports indicate that there was such an oversupply of cocoa worldwide that some farmers indicated they were thinking of switching to more profitable crops

So, cocoa surpluses and deficits may change over multi year periods


Are We Going To Run Out Of Cocoa Beans?

In the short term, it doesn’t appear likely when looking at production trends for cocoa over the last few decades.

In the medium to long term, cocoa bean production might be tied to cacao plant/crop numbers.


Are Chocolate Ingredients Other Than Cocoa Running Out?

We could not find data to suggest the world is running out of primary chocolate ingredients like milk powder or sugar yet.


Where Did Headlines About Running Out Of Chocolate Come From, & How Accurate Are They?

In the guide below, we mention various reports that published headlines suggesting that land and conditions suitable for cacao plants, and therefore the survival of cacao plants themselves, could be reduced

We indicate that whilst it might be possible that changing climates and conditions in some regions might mean that some areas become more challenging to grow cacao plants in, there doesn’t appear to be solid evidence yet that cacao crops will decrease in any significant way


How Much Chocolate Is Left In The World?

We don’t have data available at this stage of the amount of chocolate produced per year


Are We Running Out Of Chocolate Right Now?

It doesn’t appear we are in the short term


Will We Run Out Of Chocolate In 2050 Or At Some Point In The Future?

We list some potential factors that might impact chocolate production and supply into the future in the guide below


When Will We Run Out Of Chocolate?

There’s no estimate we can provide at this stage


Firstly, Where Does Chocolate Come From, & What Is Chocolate Made From?

Chocolate comes from cacao beans, and cacao beans (which are technically seeds) come from the fruit of cacao trees

Cacao beans are processed – usually dried and roasted –  to create cocoa beans

Cocoa beans are then ground/pulverised to create cocoa

Cocoa (in the form of cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and so on) is the key ingredient used to make milk chocolate, along with white and dark chocolate

Other key ingredients include but are not limited to sugar and milk powder


Dark Chocolate Uses More Cocoa

It’s worth mentioning some types of chocolate, such as dark chocolate, require more cocoa than other types of chocolate.

So, the higher the demand for these types of chocolate, the more cocoa bean production is also required


… dark chocolate is growing in popularity, and it contains a lot more cocoa than traditional chocolate (the average bar contains about 10 percent, while dark chocolate often contains more than 70 percent) (people.com)


How Many Cacao Plants Are Left In The World?

Some recent estimates indicate that the square area of cacao plants and crops worldwide is between 17 to 25 million acres


Current Square Land Area Of Cacao Plants & Crops

Cacao is planted on over 70000 square kilometres worldwide (kids.kiddle.co)


Cocoa is grown in 58 countries and on more than 17 million acres (6.9 million ha) world-wide (edis.ifas.ufl.edu)


In 2016, cocoa beans were cultivated on roughly 10,196,725 hectares (25,196,660 acres) worldwide (wikipedia.org)


Are Cacao Plants Going Extinct, Or At Risk Of Depletion?

In the short term, it does not appear as though there’s a legitimate risk that cacao plants are going extinct, or at risk of depletion.

In the medium to long term, cacao plant numbers might be impacted by factors including but not limited to:

– Future challenges in growing cacao plants 

– New technology and projects that might impact cacao plants

– Whether there are other suitable areas to grow cacao plants/crops around the world 

– Whether more crops and plants are planted, or whether current plant/crop numbers are maintained


Future Challenges In Growing Cacao Plants

Some factors may make it harder or more challenging to grow cacao plants in the future.

Some of those factors might include:

– Warming temperatures and dryer climates

[A changing climate may introduce challenges for cacao plants in some regions in the future] (bbc.com)


[In the years prior to 2020] … dry weather in West Africa … greatly decreased production [from cacao plants at times] (people.com)


– Factors that impact plant health and fertility

One example of this are diseases that impact cacao plants specifically


… gross fungal disease (frosty pod) … has wiped out between 30 and 40 percent of [cacao plant] production [in some countries prior to 2020] (people.com)


New Technology & Projects That Impact Cacao Plants

What is mentioned in the thebusinessinsider.com report is CRISPR technology (that edits plant/crop genes)

This aim of this technology is to make it easer for crops/plants to survive new challenges, such as being able to grow in warmer climates (especially in places where production currently takes place, such as African countries for cocoa beans)

businessnessinsider.com mentions they could ‘… develop cacao plants that don’t wilt or rot at their current elevations, doing away with the need to relocate farms or find another approach’

The technology is currently being examined in a research initiative to see whether cacao plants can be made more resistant to viral and fungal diseases

So, it’s only possibility at this stage (with a research initiative for cacao plants currently set up), and not something that could definitively be used on cacao plants at scale yet


Whether There Other Other Suitable Regions Or Areas To Grow Cacao Plants Around The World

– Reports indicating there’s other regions in the world cacao plants can be grown in

Even if cacao plants become harder to cultivate in Africa, sciencealert.com notes that cacao can be cultivated elsewhere in the world, such as Australia. They note that cacao isn’t native to Africa, where significant production takes place, so introducing cacao to other countries might be a possibility. This makes global extinction of the cacao plant less likely, especially considering cacao isn’t native to Africa


– Reports indicating there may be challenges in growing cacao plants on land or in places other than where it’s already being grown 

businessinsider.com mentions that there would be other regions within Africa to grow cacao plants when the climate in the current regions change, but, these new regions are primarily uphill from where they are now in the mountains, and this mountainous terrain is currently preserved for wildlife


Additionally, businessinsider.com indicates that: ‘[Cacao plants] can only grow within a narrow strip of rainforested land roughly 20 degrees north and south of the equator [in places such as Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana], where temperature, rain, and humidity all stay relatively constant throughout the year’. 


Other reports also indicate that favorable weather and growing conditions in top cocoa producing countries like Ivory Coast and Ghana suitable for cocoa production


Whether More Cacao Plants/Crops Are Planted

Whether more cacao plants and crops are planted can depend on several factors, including but not limited to whether more suitable land becomes available, and whether it’s profitable to grow cacao plants vs other crops in the future


As a result of [dry weather and fungal diseases], [some] cocoa farmers … moved on to more profitable crops [prior to 2020] (people.com)


Global Cocoa Production – Total, & Trends Over Time

statista.com has a graph that shows global annual cocoa production from 1980/81 through to 2021/22 from crops 

This graph shows global annual cocoa production has increased from 1695 thousands of metric tons in 1980/81 to 4955 thousands of metric tons in 2021/22 (which equates to 4.95 million tons)

So, cocoa production has increased significantly over time


bbc.com also references a report by NC State University that shows that cocoa bean production is growing over time in top producing countries, along with cocoa waste (such as cocoa bean pod waste)


Global Cocoa Consumption

We don’t have the tonnage of annual global cocoa consumption.

However, people.com mentions:

[In 2019] the world ate roughly 70,000 metric tons more cocoa than it produced 


Global Cocoa Supply

Is There A Shortage Or A Surplus Of Cocoa Right Now?

bbc.com indicates that there is such an oversupply of cocoa worldwide in 2021 that ‘… [farmers in the Ivory Coast were thinking of] abandoning cocoa farming altogether [and switching to] more profitable crops such as rubber or banana [and the pandemic only made this worse]’


When Might Cocoa Supply Be An Issue?

people.com indicates it might be an issue when ‘… people are consuming more cocoa than farmers are able to produce’


Are We Going To Run Out Of Cocoa Beans?

Many of the cocoa production and supply trends are increasing or trending up, and not down. This might bode well for short term security of cocoa beans.

In the medium to long term, as long as cacao plants and crops are still being farmed, it doesn’t appear as though we will run out of cocoa beans.

Additionally, it appears there may be other ways to produce cocoa beans too – although, these alternative methods may have tradeoffs.


Other Ways To Produce Cocoa Beans

Cacao plants might not be the only way to produce cocoa beans.

However, other forms of cocoa bean production might have tradeoffs.


An agricultural group in Central Africa is developing trees that can produce up to seven times the amount of beans traditional cocoa trees can [however a downside might be that] The increased efficiency might be compromising taste (people.com)


Are Chocolate Ingredients Other Than Cocoa Running Out?

We could not find data that indicates that we are currently at risk of running out of milk powder, or sugar. 

These are two other core ingredients used in chocolate.


Where Did The Headlines About Running Out Of Chocolate Come From, & How Accurate Are They?

Where The Headlines Came From

Several reports (with one example being the businessinsider.com report listed) indicated that chocolate was on track to run out in 40 years from the year 2018, or even as early as the year 2050.

Some of the basis of these headlines were warmer temperatures and dryer weather conditions in the future making conditions less suitable in some regions to grow cacao plants.

US Berkeley (innovativegenomics.org) also indicated that ‘… climate change will significantly reduce the amount of land suitable for cultivating cacao in the coming decades …’


How Accurate Are The Headlines?

It might be reasonable to say that the implication of the headlines wasn’t fully accurate or reliable.

A few of the main reasons for this might have been that:

– The report was using a ‘business as usual’ scenario for global temperature rise by 2050 to indicate leading cacao producers will lose significant amounts of suitable cultivation area, and were citing research from the IPCC. Whether that scenario actually happens in the future is no certainty  

– sciencealert.com notes that, even if cacao plants become harder to cultivate in Africa, there might be other areas in the world that cacao crops can be planted

Although, businessinsider.com provides contrary information to this, indicating that there’s only specific regions in the world, and specific land cacao plants can be grown on


What Might Be Right About The Headlines?

It might be fair to say that the climate and temperatures might change in certain geographic locations in the future, and also that the amount of land suitable for growing cacao (and producing cacao beans) might be reduced in some way in the future due to these changed conditions

It might also be a possibility that cacao crops are depleted to some level in the future if a viral or fungal disease spreads in the top producing regions

However, changing climates and temperatures pushing cacao plants to the point of extinction might be unlikely

UC Berkeley (innovativegenomics.org) mentions ‘[Climate change probably won’t push cacao plants] to the point of extinction. The vast majority of cacao is produced in West Africa, and reducing the amount of cacao-producing land to an even narrower region could speed up the spread of disease [though]’ 


How Much Chocolate Is Left In The World?

Although global quantity of chocolate isn’t necessarily tracked, it might be accurate to say that as long as cocoa and other core ingredients are available, there will be chocolate left in the world to be made from these key ingredients


Are We Running Out Of Chocolate Right Now?

No, it does not appear we are running out of cocoa or chocolate in the short term.


Will We Run Out Of Chocolate In 2050, Or At Some Other Point In The Future?

There might be various ways to answer this question.

It appears unlikely we will run out of chocolate in 2050 or at a similar point in the future based on current information.

However, whether we run out of chocolate might be related to factors including but not limited to:

– Cacao plant farming, and annual cocoa production levels

At the moment, production levels are showing a trend that they are increasing over time

Cacao crop businesses have to stay profitable for farmers, and conditions for growing cacao plants have to remain suitable, amongst other factors that impact cacao plant farming and consequently cocoa bean production


– Whether the cocoa and chocolate industry continues to grow from an economic perspective

Reports from organisations like fortunebusinessinsights.com indicate that the global industry cocoa and chocolate industry is only forecast to grow in the future:

The global cocoa and chocolate market is projected to grow from $48.29 billion in 2022 to $67.88 billion by 2029, at a CAGR of 4.98% in forecast period’


– Annual production levels of milk powder, sugar, and other key ingredients in chocolate


When Will We Run Out Of Chocolate? … What Year?

At this point, there might be no clear answer to this question.




1. https://www.statista.com/statistics/262620/global-cocoa-production/

2. https://kids.kiddle.co/Cacao_tree

3. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/HS307

4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theobroma_cacao

5. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210607-a-chocolatey-sustainable-alternative-to-fossil-fuels

6. https://people.com/food/world-chocolate-shortage-mars/

7. https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com/industry-reports/cocoa-and-chocolate-market-100075

8. https://www.sciencealert.com/here-s-what-need-know-about-chocolate-going-extinct-40-years-cacao-climate

9. https://www.businessinsider.com/when-chocolate-extinct-2017-12?r=AU&IR=T

10. https://innovativegenomics.org/news/new-project-to-create-disease-resistant-cacao/


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