The latest outbreak of Ebola is not only causing a global health crisis, but it may also result in a possible chocolate crisis. According to NPR, last month the price of raw cocoa — which is heavily produced in West Africa — spiked heavily due to fears related to Ebola. Together, the Ivory Coast and Ghana produce more than half the world's cocoa and the countries are located next door to Liberia and Guinea which are currently in the midst of an Ebola crisis. Analysts fear that Ebola could make the jump over the border into the Ivory Coast causing cocoa farmers to "scatter to avoid exposure to the virus." Cocoa fruits would be left unpicked, and Snickers bars and M&Ms would become expensive luxuries.
While fears have eased a bit since the Ivory Coast locked down its land borders, "allowing almost no human traffic from Ebola-affected countries," this raises another issue. Many of the people who harvest cocoa are actually migrant workers from Ebola-affected countries. Now, due to the border lockdown, laborers will not be able to participate in the harvest season which begins in October.
Ebola's impact on cocoa prices has influenced huge chocolate companies like Nestlé, Hershey, and Mars to joint the fight against the disease. According to CNN, Nestlé is "deeply concerned" about the spread of the disease in West Africa where nearly 6,300 of its employees are based. The companies have joined forces with the World Cocoa Foundation to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight the Ebola outbreak.