Sisters and Brothers, for ten months we have been gathering here to celebrate Chocolate. We've done this through product reviews, Sacramental reviews, news items, medical and health alerts, discussion of popular culture, book reviews, and lot of photos. Today I want to use all of this information we've looked at and which I, your Chocolate Priestess have gathered, to predict how we'll encounter Chocolate in 2010.
1. Prices for raw cacao will continue to rise. Both cocoa and sugar have been rising in price all year and by the end of 2009 both were at prices they had not seen in decades. With changes in the environment, more government involvement and the spread of fair-trade practices, prices will continue to rise.
2. Chocolatiers will change their chocolate or increase their prices. There is simply no way around this as prices rise. Either they will have to decrease the size of their products or the amount of cocoa in them. I do not want them to decrease the cocoa, because as you've seen in the five sensory revelations, amount of cocoa really affects the buzz and health benefits of chocolate. Look for smaller candies or higher prices; don't be surprised if both happen.
3. Growth of mega chocolate companies. To combat higher prices larger companies may merge even more so they can have greater buying power. The sad result of this may be less variety and lower quality of chocolates as they focus on profit. On the other hand, it could me more variety in some regions of the world who will not get chocolate from places they couldn't before as these mergers go international.
4. Small Chocolatiers will develop unique items. To survive, the small, private and perhaps family chocolatier is going to need to invest in publicity and develop a few unique items for a target audience. We here at The Chocolate Cult try to help these companies with out Sacraments when they send offerings and I believe in 2009, Sisters and Brothers, benefited from learning about several of these companies. Saying "we're as good as Godiva" thought will not cut it if the chain store can buy cocoa in bulk and you can't. Smaller chocolatiers will need to be better than the big players and offer you something that sticks out in your mind.
5. Health claims will continue to be revealed. With the medical results starting to roll in, I can only imagine there have been other studies in the works examining other groups of people and the affect of chocolate. Hopefully the mass media will work to give us more information such as quantity and cocoa content but given the state of most of these reports in 2009 I'm betting they remain big.
6. Companies will exploit the health claims. One of the things that annoys me most is when a new health claim is made I see dozens of online companies jumping on the "chocolate is healthy" bandwagon without regard to what the studies actually say. Given the state of the economy I think this trend will only get worse especially for the lower grade chocolatiers who use hype over quality to sell their products.
7. Chocolate will be blamed for healthcare problems. We've all ready seen the Sacred Substance attacked in school milk and blamed for the USA being overweight. We will see these attacks increased and just like those trying to sell chocolate with distorted health claims, the Unenlightened will also distort facts to make themselves feel like they are doing something for healthcare and yet do nothing.
8. Chocolate will be taxed. This is my final prediction. I think that local, state, and federal governments will start to tax cocoa products as a way to make up for lost income. Perhaps they will be choosy, taxing the mass produced candy and not the baked items from your local chocolatier. My guess is that that equation will be too difficult and we'll see a tax thus making the costs even higher.
I do also have some hopes for Chocolate in 2010.
I hope that all of you continue to read but more than that I hope you start commenting more frequently. I and the Acolytes want to hear from you so we can do a better job of revealing the Sacred Substance to you and aiding you determining what to spend your money and mouth on. Think about getting a copy of our bumpersticker (you can find links to it at the bottom of any page) and telling your friends and family about The Chocolate Cult.
I hope that companies and chocolatiers continue to trust use to reveal their products to the world. I love experiencing the great variety out there from around the USA and even the world in some cases. But I don't charge anyone money to join The Chocolate Cult so I need to rely on offerings from chocolatiers and companies and not on spending my own money.
I hope that all of you will try the Path we talk about in 2010. In the past year, even with health issues and reviewing a lot of chocolate for you all, I lost over 30 pounds and improved several health conditions. I did this in part from following out Path of Moderation and Purposefulness. If finances are a concern for you, this Path will help you as well because while you may spend more for quality chocolate, you'll need far less of it.
Happy New Year!
Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.