- The Washington Times - Monday, October 13, 2014

Ebola may now be threatening a good portion of the world’s chocolate supply, thanks to the Ivory Coast’s decision to shut its borders with Liberia and Guinea.

Ivory Coast is the world’s largest producer of cacao, the raw ingredient used in M&M’s candies, Butterfingers candy bars and Snickers Bars, Politico reported. But the closed borders means workers can’t get to their bean-picking jobs — and just at the dawn of the cacao harvest season.

The West African nation, home to about 20 million, hasn’t yet seen a case of Ebola, but industry insiders say the disease has already had an impact on prices. Prices on cocoa futures jumped from $2,000 per ton to $2,700 per ton, hitting even $3,400 in September, when concerns surged about the spread of Ebola to Ivory Coast, said Jack Scoville, vice president of the Chicago-based Price Futures Group.

Ivory Coast produces about 33 percent of the world’s total of cacao beans each year. In August, it shut down borders with Guinea and Liberia, where more than 8,000 have been diagnosed with Ebola, Politico reported. 

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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