The escalating appetite for chocolate in Asia, especially China, has worsened the global cocoa shortage, potentially sending chocolate prices soaring in the near future.

According to the International Cocoa Organisation (ICO), global supplies are experiencing the longest production shortfall in the past five decades. It estimated that there could be a 150,000-tonne deficit of beans in 2014.

The increasing demand for chocolate pushed cocoa prices in March to their highest for two and half years: 1,896 GBP (3,183 USD) per tonne in London and 3,031 USD per tonne in New York.

About 70 percent of the world’s cocoa comes from Africa, with the majority of growers located along its west coast and living under the poverty line. Most of the growers are elderly, and their descendants are resisting following the same the career due to low income it generates for them. Therefore, supporting measures for the growers are needed, experts said.

Mondelez Interantional – a multinational confectionary, foodstuff and beverages manufacturer - has pledged to invest over 400 million USD to ease the cocoa crisis.

In 10 years, it plans to pour millions of dollars into Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Indonesia, India and Republic of Dominica to improve the living standards of people there.

The global cocoa shortage, however, is expected to open up a bright future for Vietnam as according to the Crop Production Department, the cocoa plantation area in Vietnam has increased to 22,000ha from 9,000ha in 2007, providing 5,000 tonnes of dried beans in 2013.

Currently, a tonne of cocoa is priced at 58 million VND (2,746 USD) to 60 million VND (2,840 USD).

Intercropping cocoa in cashew gardens is hoped to help increase farmers' income while not affecting cashew yields.

Vietnam plans to have 50,000 ha under cocoa and produce about 100,000 tonnes of fermented beans by 2020.-VNA