The future of the volatile cacao bean (and chocolate bunnies)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

With Easter around the corner, you may be dreaming of chocolate bunnies, but getting the cacao crop to make those tasty treats is becoming increasingly difficult. A third of the world's cacao crop dies every year due to the fact that the trees are necessarily grown in a monoculture and thus incredibly vulnerable to disease. So what is a candymaker to do? Well, if you are the Mars Corp. you hire a Global Director of Plant Science, specifically, you hire Howard-Yana Shapiro, and become the only chocolate company that has a dedicated research facility in “the center of this disease cesspool” (Howard’s words). Mars, which owns the Mars, Snickers and M&M candy brands, is also set to spend tens of millions of dollars annually certifying that the cocoa used in their $10 billion of chocolate products are sustainably sourced by 2020.

Here to tell us more about why cacao trees are at risk, and why no one but him and a few folks at the USDA are researching this, is Howard-Yana Shapiro.


Howard Yana Shapiro

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