If Ever You Needed an Excuse to Eat Chocolate, Today is the Day

July 7 is celebrated as World Chocolate Day – a day that marks the introduction of chocolate to Europe in 1550.

Damn! Folks have been indulging in chocolate for 468 years. So, for those who need an excuse to get some more this weekend – this is it.

Oh, I’ve just quickly scanned a few articles online marking this day. Interestingly, its origins are rarely mentioned. But, let’s get a bit of background on who are the producers of chocolate and leading consumers in the African continent.

In terms of production, the best place to start is cocoa production – the central ingredient of chocolate. Africa is the leading producer of cocoa, particularly the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria. Trailing Africa is South America and Southeast Asia (see the Chart below).

World's leading producers of Cocoa

Now that we know the cocoa producers, one would generally assume that these countries will also be the leading producers of chocolate – WRONG. The value addition largely takes place outside of the African continent.

The United States, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Argentina are the leading producers of chocolate (see the Table below). While Africa is a leading producer of cocoa, there isn’t a single cocoa producer featured amongst the top chocolate producers.

World's leading producers of chocolate

So, what is happening in Africa? The best we can tell is that the continent is importing a large share of chocolate that is found on retail shelves. The leading importers are South Africa, followed by Moroco, Algeria, Libya and Egypt.

Choco importsI am tempted to talk about the old story of Africa failing to add value to its primary produce, but that is a topic for another day. For now – you must enjoy your chocolate folks!

Follow me on Twitter (@WandileSihlobo). E-mail: wandile@agbiz.co.za

Author: Wandile Sihlobo

Wandile Sihlobo is an agricultural economist and head of agribusiness research at the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) in South Africa. He is a columnist for Business Day and Farmers Weekly magazine. Sihlobo is a member of the South African Agricultural Economics Association. He has previously served as an economist at Grain South Africa. He holds a Master of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from Stellenbosch University.

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