The Economics of Chocolate

Before becoming a kiss, bar, or hot drink, cocoa gets shipped, stashed, smashed, and, most critically for producers and consumers alike, commodified By Daniel A. Gross smithsonian.com February 11, 2015 A chart of chocolate future prices since Valentine’s Day, 2014 (NASDAQ.com) The Economics of Chocolate Before becoming a kiss, bar, or hot drink, cocoa gets shipped, stashed, smashed, and, most critically for producers and consumers alike, commodified By Daniel A. Gross SMITHSONIAN.COM FEBRUARY 11, 2015 2:04PM 1 34 0 0 0 0 61 13400061 Look at a graph of cocoa prices since Valentine’s Day 2014, and you’ll see a jagged line as ragged as a broken heart. The price line includes plenty of peaks and valleys, but the sharpest came last September. The line jerked suddenly upward, plateaued at cocoa’s highest price in several years, and then plummeted to its original level. It left an ascending spike of almost perfect symmetry. That spike was Ebola, converted into cocoa prices. (And the most recent drop resulted from declining demand for chocolate.) Cocoa makes a long and winding journey from bean to bar. The crop starts in the farms of tropical nations, especially in West Africa, and travels through ports, shipping containers … continue reading

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