Could you live without chocolate?

Or are you willing to pay considerably more for it?

Both scenarios are possible as the demand for chocolate continues to rise around the world, while the production of cocoa beans remains stagnant or even falls.

According to the International Cocoa Organization, the price of cocoa beans has risen almost 30% in the past twelve months. That’s after a period of relatively low prices that forced many cocoa bean producers to switch to more lucrative crops.

It’s a complex issue because, based on changing tastes, it now takes more cocoa to produce the same amount of chocolate. “The consumer is more educated. They want higher cocoa. They want more quality,” says Heinrich Stubbe of Stubbe Chocolates in Ottawa.

And it’s not the decreased production that really concerns Stubbe. It is how chocolate is starting to catch on in huge emerging markets like India and China. “Chocolate is not really in their consumption now. But it’s coming, and that scares me,” he says.

It’s a gathering storm of supply and demand that has the industry worried. Chocolate giant, Hershey, has adopted what it calls a “21st Century Cocoa Strategy” to try to improve supply. Some analysts estimate it will have to increase by 25-percent over the next five years to head off a worldwide chocolate shortage.

With an estimated $117-billion in sales this year alone, that has the makings of one giant case of chocolate withdrawl.

Can you give up your chocolate? Tell us what you think.