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ASCM Insights

Chocolate Shortage? Get a Career Sweetener with ASCM Education


Easter comes early this year (March 31), so you know what that means: Time to break out the marshmallow chicks, malted eggs and — most importantly — the enormous chocolate bunnies. Unlike Christmas (with tons of gift-buying) and Halloween (with the imperative costumes and candy), you might not think of Easter as a major retail holiday. But it’s actually an important one. In fact, Nielsen IQ reports that Easter is the number-one U.S. holiday for milk chocolate sales.

Unfortunately, we all might need to control our sweet tooths this year. Cocoa prices have more than doubled after three years of poor cocoa harvests, according to a report from Reuters. It explains that Ivory Coast and Ghana produce nearly 60% of the world's cocoa, but many major players there have stopped or cut processing because they can’t afford to purchase beans.

Processors turn cocoa beans into butter and liquor that can be made into chocolate, which is then sold to chocolate makers, such as Nestle, Hershey and Modelez. But two of the main processing plants are unable to pay for the beans to start that cycle. Transcao, a state-controlled plant in Ivory Coast, has stopped buying beans and is only producing from existing stock. “Two industry sources said the plant was almost idle,” Reuters reports. And Ghana’s Cocoa Processing Company is “operating at about 20% of capacity.”

The cause of the poor harvest this year is three-fold: environmental, economic and human. El Nino has caused drier weather in west Africa and led to bean disease and a loss of harvests from more than 500,000 hectares of land. Meanwhile, there are fewer forests available in which to plant the trees that produce cocoa beans. Economic factors include unfair compensation for farmers and other workers responsible for cocoa production, which creates a vicious cycle that can significantly contribute to poorer crop yields and overall farm health. And the ongoing child labor epidemic in the industry means fewer proper farming techniques are implemented, plus a tragic number of injuries and illnesses. All of this further reduces the overall workforce available for responsible and sustainable cocoa production in the future.

Normally this industry is heavily regulated, but in times of severe shortages, the systems break down. “As global traders rush to purchase those beans at any price to meet their obligations with the chocolate firms, local processors are often left short of beans,” notes Reuters. Prices have already gone up: In the United States, chocolate retailers charged 11% more in 2023 than in 2022, and costs are expected to continue escalating.

A different type of indulgence

Fortunately, there are sweeter treats than chocolate, such as the delightful feeling of achieving an important career goal. ASCM has five world-class career certificates to help you do just that:

For a limited time, unlock extra value by savings $100 on each program when you purchase two or more certificates. The global chocolate market faces a bitter truth this year, but ASCM education can unlock a future filled with career satisfaction.

About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer of the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), the largest organization for supply chain and the global pacesetter of organizational transformation, talent development and supply chain innovation. During his tenure, ASCM has significantly expanded its services to corporations, individuals and communities. Its revenue has more than doubled, and the association successfully completed three mergers in response to both heightened industry awareness and the vast and ongoing global impact driven by supply chains. Previously, Eshkenazi was the managing director of the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. He may be contacted through

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