Ebola and chocolate

This story appears in the Ebola feature series. View the full series.

by Dawn Araujo-Hawkins

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Ebola is about more than just healthcare. As Melanie Lidman, Global Sisters Report’s Africa and Middle East correspondent, reported earlier this month, when an epidemic meets an already fragile social infrastructures, the reverberations are felt on multiple levels. One perhaps surprising example of this is the effect Ebola has had on the world’s chocolate industry:

  • The primary reason Ebola has affected chocolate sales worldwide is because 70 percent of the world’s cocoa beans come from the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon. Although none of the countries have been hit in the current Ebola outbreak, they neighbor the countries hit hardest.
  • This is significant because the Ivory Coast (which, alone, produces almost 38 percent of the world’s cocoa beans) has closed its borders to Ebola-affected countries. Normally, the cocoa industry relies strongly on migrant workers, including some 109,000 child laborers.
  • In anticipation of Ebola’s continued effect on the West African chocolate industry, cocoa futures have already increased from their usual range of between $2,000 and $2,700 a ton to about $3,000.

This map from the Guardian shows the world’s cocoa trades in 2012.