There are many worse news stories out there, we grant. But the story that we’re fast running out of chocolate has nevertheless grabbed our startled attention.
By 2020, the people at chocolate producers Mars Inc. and Barry Callebaut AG Switzerland say, the gulf between how much chocolate we want and how much can be produced will be one million metric tonnes.
By 2030, it will be two million.
Why? A number of reasons are based on farming and production problems; market experts point to drought, crop disease, higher demand of more-productive crops like corn, and rising popularity of dark chocolate - which uses more cocoa.
But there’s no denying that one big reason for our falling chocolate reserves is based on a consumption problem.
Basically, we’re all too greedy. Especially us Brits.
Because yes, obviously, chocolate’s eaten the world over, but 40% of the global consumption is in Europe alone, and homing in just on the UK, according to figures by chocolatier Lily O’Brien, the average consumer eats 10.5kg of chocolate every year (the Swiss are worse – they get through 12kg each); 8 million of us eat it every day (research from Mintel); and only 5% of us never eat it.
That 5% will clearly soon have to become considerably more, but don’t panic, there are alternatives ways to get your chocolate fix…
1. Have a coffee
Coffee, despite what many people think, can actually be very good for you; it improves your memory, helps ward off dementia and Parkinson’s, can control diabetes, can boost metabolism, and is packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants.
What’s more, as our chocolate reserves begin to deplete, it’s also a very good substitute thanks to it containing the stimulant theobromine, a chemical also found in cocoa, and the thing responsible for that addictive post-snack ‘high’.
2. Fall in love
A little harder to order at your local caff, but falling in love is also a good substitute to eating a bar of chocolate.
Chocolate naturally contains phenylethylamine, the ultimate feel-good chemical that promotes excitement and nervousness and that’s also associated with realising you rather like someone.
An added benefit of phenylethylamine is that it combines with the brain hormone dopamine to act as an anti-depressant. Double happy.
3. Eat some porridge
Chemistry lesson number three: chocolate is a great source of the amino acid tryptophan, which, in small levels, reacts with our brains to produce serotonin, perhaps the most famous of the happy neurotransmitters.
Chocolate isn’t the only source though; grab a bowl of porridge, get in early with the Christmas turkey, eat a banana, boil an egg, order a steak, snack on pumpkin seeds – all great suppliers of tryptophan.
4. Eat some carob
Bear with us. Carob might be associated with slightly worthy health-food shops, but it’s actually a very good, lower-fat alternative to chocolate.
Cassandra Barns, nutritionist at NutriCentre.com, explains: “Carob is a tropical pod that contains a sweet, edible pulp and inedible seeds.
The pulp is roasted after drying and ground into a powder that resembles cocoa powder.
It's seen as a healthy alternative to chocolate, as it's lower in fat than plain cocoa powder but it's much higher in carbs and sugars. One tablespoon of unsweetened carob powder has roughly 25 calories, no saturated fat or cholesterol.”
Other tropical C alternatives Barns suggest are Cupuaçu – “Brazil's new alternative to carob, a tropical fruit, so it's sweet and acidic at the same time.
The white pulp is fragrant, some say it tastes like a mix of chocolate and pineapple”, or coconut – “the chewy texture and natural sweetness make a good chocolate substitute, but make sure you use in moderation as coconut is naturally high in fat and calories.”
Swapping a nice comforting slab of Dairy Milk for a jog round the block might not sound instantly appealing, but it might make sense.
For the first chocolate = exercise match, exercising releases those same feel-good serotonins that chocolate does, and for the second, chocolate’s theobromine compound reduces your blood pressure, as does, obviously, being active.
In the face of a world wide chocolate shortage what will you turn to for your chocolate fix?