Barry Callebaut Group – the world’s largest chocolate manufacturer – has expressed concerns about “a potential cocoa shortage by 2020”, which in turn has contributed to cocoa prices rising a staggering 25 per cent in the past year; cocoa prices rose in 2013/14 from around £1,600 per tons to more than £2,000 per tons.

Although major production regions witnessed strong crop yields, the company said the price rise, “has been fuelled by fears related to the Ebola outbreak in some West-African countries, El Nino forecasts, as well as financial speculation”. Barry Callebaut sold more than 1.7 million tons of chocolate in 2013/14 – a year-on-year increase of more than 11.8 per cent – and said in its annual report that it “expects to continue to outperform the global chocolate market”.

Fiona Dawson, the then-UK president of Mars chocolate, warned in 2012 that the global cocoa sector “may suffer a 1 million tons shortage by 2020 because of the increasing economic and environmental pressures on cocoa farms”, she added “it’s just not sustainable.” Despite the shortage warnings, the increase in demand for chocolate has been prolific – almost seven times greater in Asia compared to Europe, with Brazil and China toping the charts.

Besides economic and geopolitical factors, a more tangible aspect maybe the unprecedented age of cocoa decadence. Society transcended from buying simple foil-wrapped bars at the corner store to demanding a minimum of 70% cocoa solids, sprinkled with gourmet flakes, and topped with gold leafs at the latest boutique bean-to-bar hotspot. Humanities gross over-indulgence of this comfort snack may ultimately lead to its pseudo-extinction. Dairy Milk will become a luxury item – Be prepared to pay more, a lot more as products eventually get smaller.

Chocoholics everywhere have an ethical duty to help conserve the world’s dwindling supply of cocoa. So the next time your sweet-tooth aches opt for one really wonderful chocolate treat rather than a big box of something disgusting!