“The Rise of Big Chocolate” certainly sounds like a lascivious porno movie, but if there is any movie that comes to mind in this article, it’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, a wonderful and memorable family movie with catchy songs coating a rather bitter and dark enterprise involving vulture legal contracts, unsafe working conditions (why, oh why, is there never a barrier around the chocolate river?), worker exploitation, and even corporate espionage (remember Slugsworth), a movie that unfortunately mirrors the present due to monopolization of confectionery companies by Cargill and Barry Callebaut.
VIA Foreign Policy
Small and mid-size confectioners have traditionally been able to request specific blends and recipe mixtures from cocoa processors. But as the number of sellers has thinned, chocolatiers struggle to procure these specialties. “When it comes to Belgian chocolate, there is not that much variety anymore,” says Van Riet. He explains that his customers “are very nervous” as the consolidation in the industry continues.
By bulking up, Barry Callebaut and Cargill are positioning themselves for a booming market. Retail chocolate prices in the United States have risen by 7 percent over the last year, while wholesale prices have increased by 45 percent since 2007. Euromonitor International estimates chocolate sales will rise 6 percent next year, and cocoa traders say that wholesale prices could reach a record high by the holidays.
Cocoa bean prices have soared partly due to bad weather in West Africa and growing demand from Western Europe, Latin America, and Asia. Speculative investors have also poured money into cocoa contracts, boosting futures prices. On Friday, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission reported that money managers held 99,871 of these bullish bets, the largest amount since 2006.