Rising Chocolate Demand Means More Plant Health Research

DanSpecialty Crops, This Land of Ours

As demand for chocolate rises, so does the need for agricultural research. That’s coming up on This Land of Ours.

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When was the last time you had a bite of chocolate? USDA researcher Doctor Alina Puig says people around the world are wanting it more, and that means a higher demand for cacao beans. As much as 40 percent of cacao’s potential harvest can be destroyed because of plant diseases, but researchers like Puig are working to help the international supply.

“In order to meet the increasing global demand, that’s a reason to have research into cacao,” she said. “In order for there to be enough cacao beans to meet the world’s demand for chocolate, we need to make sure that we’re doing what we can to prevent the chocolate tree from getting sick.”

Puig says that though only one state in the U.S. and one U.S. territory grow cacao commercially, a decline in chocolate production would affect the economy in several ways.

“There is commercial production within the United States, but another way that it is important to the U.S. economy is the confectionery industry. When they make chocolate, they use a lot of U.S. agricultural products like peanuts and almonds, milk, and sugar. So it’s a major market for U.S. agricultural commodities indirectly as well as it being important for the U.S. economy directly in terms of production in Hawaii and Puerto Rico.”

According to the National Confectioners Association, chocolate sales were up nearly ten percent in 2021.

Listen to Sabrina Halvorson’s This Land of Ours program here.

Rising Chocolate Demand Means More Plant Health Research

Sabrina Halvorson
National Correspondent / AgNet Media, Inc.

Sabrina Halvorson is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster, and public speaker who specializes in agriculture. She primarily reports on legislative issues and hosts The AgNet News Hour and The AgNet Weekly podcast. Sabrina is a native of California’s agriculture-rich Central Valley.