Experts predict the world could run out of chocolate within 40 years because cacao plants are struggling to survive in warmer climates.
The trees can only grow within approximately 20 degrees north and south of the Equator – and they thrive under specific conditions such as high humidity and abundant rain.
That means cacao production areas are set to be pushed thousands of feet uphill into mountainous terrain which is carefully preserved for wildlife by 2050.
Last year experts predicted that the world was heading for a ‘chocolate deficit’ as shoppers in developing countries snapped up more of the sweet treat.
The typical Western consumer eats an average of 286 chocolate bars a year – more if they are from Belgium, the research titled Destruction by Chocolate found.
Since the 1990s, more than a billion people from China, Indonesia, India, Brazil and the former Soviet Union have entered the market for cocoa.Despite the increased demand, supply has not kept up and stockpiles of cocoa are said to be falling.
Doug Hawkins, from London-based research firm Hardman Agribusiness, said production of cocoa is under strain as farming methods have not changed for hundreds of years.
Some reports suggest cocoa growers in the world’s top producer country, Ivory Coast, have resorted to illegally farming protected forests to meet demand – what Mr Hawkins calls ‘destruction by chocolate’.