Is Climate Change Making Chocolate Taste Better?

It’s not news that climate change is impacting chocolate production, but there are some new articles out there about a study reportedly showing that climate change is making chocolate taste better. Is it true?

The short answer is no. The study authors told NPR that this isn’t an accurate interpretation of their results. Lead author, Wiebke Niether explained that climate change will alter the way chocolate tastes, but not necessarily for the better.

The study looked specifically at how climate change-related water shortages and heavier rainfalls would impact the flavor of chocolate, and Niether was pretty clear in his comment to NPR on their findings when he said, ”Drought is not going to make better-tasting cocoa.”

Another study author told NPR that the compounds they looked at ”are limited to bitter and astringent flavors.” They found more of these compounds in the cocoa they tested during the dry seasons, meaning potentially less delicious cocoa.

This research is part of a long-term study by a group out of Switzerland called Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), and they’re nine years into what they hope will be a 20 year study on chocolate production and climate change. They’re looking at a couple of different factors:

  • how changes in water availability impact chocolate’s composition
  • how to produce a chocolate crop that’s more resilient to climate change

Not only is climate change not making chocolate any tastier, it’s impacting yields, which will make it harder and harder to grow. That’s bad news for consumers and for farmers. We already knew that climate change is hurting cocoa farmers, but FiBL has some promising findings on the production front so far. They looked at three different ways of growing cocoa, with varying degrees of biodiversity.

What they found is that agroforestry systems—rather than monocultures—are better for growing cocoa in a changing climate. These systems put less stress on plants and the biodiverse ecosystems they create actually help fight climate change.

When it comes to what cocoa farmers want most, yield is king. Andrew Daymond, a senior research fellow in the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development at the University of Reading in the U.K., told NPR, “For most cocoa farmers … their livelihoods are dependent on yield, not on the composition of their cocoa beans.”

Related at Care2

It's not news that climate change is impacting chocolate production, but there are recent articles out there about a new study showing that climate change is making chocolate taste better. Is it true?

Images via Thinkstock.

103 comments

Marie W
Marie W3 months ago

Thanks for posting

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Jack Y
Jack Y5 months ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y5 months ago

thanks

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John J
John J5 months ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J5 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Mike R
Mike R7 months ago

Thanks

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Mike R
Mike R7 months ago

Thanks

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Anette S
Anette S8 months ago

And not to forget our shared biosphere... with every creature great and small, whatever flies, creeps or crawls, whether sensate or not.

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Anette S
Anette S8 months ago

Not to mention the devastating consequences for the environment, of course.

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Anette S
Anette S8 months ago

One small marginal note: Mono-cultures have always been utter nonsense. Only humans/producers benefit in the short term because farming is easier/cheaper. In the long term, however, everything becomes uneconomical due to high fertilizer/pesticide consumption.

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