Cocoa beans are grown on cacao trees and have been consumed for thousands of years. Today, dried and fermented seeds can be used to create chocolate, while the fat of the beans – or cocoa butter – can also be extracted and used for a variety of purposes, from moisturizing the skin and hair to cooking. Cocoa was first harvested in what is today Central America. Soon, though, it became popular around the world, and it is now produced in many regions worldwide. In the United States alone, Americans eat 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate each year.
While many nations produce cocoa beans, there are a few that stand out from the pack. One of those is Cote d’Ivoire. This nation is responsible for 30% of the world’s cocoa. Familiar brands like Cadbury and Nestle mostly source their cocoa from this country. Ghana is another top producer of cocoa. The production of cocoa contributes significantly to the nation’s GDP. Unfortunately, operational costs have become a problem in recent years, leading to cocoa smuggling to the Ivory Coast. Indonesia is relatively new to the cocoa industry, only ramping up producting during the 1980s. Today, the nation is one of the top producers in the world. Other nations that are top producers of cocoa include Brazil, Cameroon, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Nigeria, and Peru.