Chocolate: The Road to Luxury


For all of you chocolate lovers out there beware: there may be a flaw in Western chocolate manufacturers’ supply chain management of cocoa. Productivity is not at the levels it needs to be to satisfy manufacturers and consumers. To better put this into perspective, Mars has found that if the levels of productivity remain the same as today, by the year 2020 there would be a shortage of 1.1 million tons of cocoa. If this occurs and current productivity levels of cocoa trended into the future, the cocoa farming business will not be headed in a promising direction.

The disconnect lies within cocoa faming itself. There is little incentive for cocoa farmers to continue in their line of work because of the competitive rubber industry. It is considered a less uncertain industry with a longer crop season by about four months. On top of this, the wage for both types of farming is roughly the same.

The other constraint of the industry is the high risk for disease outbursts. This is partly due to the inadequate access of much needed fertilizers for the cocoa crop.

Cocoa-farmers do not come anywhere near the crop’s capacity since their utilization is only around 60%. Cocoa manufactures have recognized the scarcity as a sincere problem since in many growing areas more than 40% of the cocoa crop is destroyed due to vermin and disease.  One would hope that this type of scarcity could be due to assignable variation that can be improved by subtracting bad causes.

How would you react if chocolate turned into a luxury good instead of an affordable snack due to flaws in the supply chain management?

Chocolate manufacturers are looking to provide solutions for productivity in the cocoa-farming realm. Many companies like Mondelez and Mars have invested millions in education programs in hopes to increase productivity and decrease disease-ridden crop. Mondelez has gone as far as hiring students from universities for these cocoa programs to target efforts toward younger generations. This seems to be an efficient approach, given the fact that peer motivation is a convincing form of motivation.

Another potential solution was Ivory Coast’s decision to set a price minimum for cocoa. This was an astonishing action that stresses how essential cocoa farmers are in the industry.

It is hard to believe that the issue has gone this far. In my opinion, action should have been taken much sooner. The uphill battle is much worse now that efficiency levels have sunk so far below maximum capacity.

Do you think that these efforts put forth by chocolate manufacturers will be enough to save the chocolate industry?

What else can be done to improve the supply chain management and productivity in the industry?

Have you noticed any other flaws in the cocoa/chocolate industry besides the supply chain management?

Which action will have a greater affect on the industry: a price minimum or cocoa farming education programs?


What’s That Smell?

Where has the privacy gone?

Do you ever wonder why corporate bathrooms can seem so standardized and unpleasant? Unlike the extensively designed and well-kept restaurant and hotel restrooms, the movement has not seemed to extend to corporate restrooms. When it comes to corporate offices, more times than not, employees leave these bathrooms feeling uncomfortable and violated by the lack of privacy and dingy appearance. The reason for this is simple; in many cases it is the landlord’s duty to maintain a company’s restrooms and not the tenant’s.

At the end of the day, whose responsibility is it to take care of issues in corporate restrooms?

This is where standardization comes into play. To the landlord’s advantage, it is more cost effective to standardize corporate restrooms. It costs less for upkeep as well as the building of the facilities since standardization provides more routine inspection, purchasing and handling measures. The simple designs also allow easier options for cleaning. The market for corporate fixtures is so standardized that the largest American company that sells these fixtures is name “American Standard”.

In this case, is standardization detrimental to professional work environments or is it beneficial in the end?

Of course the disadvantages of standardization is most directly felt by the employees of the corporation since most of these facilities are purely functional, and do not go above and beyond whatsoever. The standardization does not cater to privacy in these professional environments. Anyone who has used a public restroom can attest to the embarrassment of forced intimacy on a sour stomach. “Not only is your dignity at stake when you visit the toilet in view or earshot of work colleagues, but there can also be a paranoid sense that your visits are being monitored,” states Nick Haslam, who analyses the anxiety that people encounter when using public facilities in his book, Psychology in the Bathroom. It comes at no surprise that the standardization of corporate restrooms have become in many ways resistant to improvements due to many landlord’s wishes to cut costs.

Do you believe there is a real issue at hand or are a few employees simply asking for too much from their corporations?

The worst part about landlords’ decisions to choose the most cost effective approach to corporate facilities is that this may negatively affect employees to the point of them not wanting to continue with the company. Single-occupancy restrooms appear to be the most privacy conscious bathrooms but unfortunately they are by no means the cheapest option.

If corporations and landlords were more mindful of privacy concerns in buildings, how large would the impact be on a professional environment?

In a professional work environment I would appreciate privacy in the restroom in order to maintain professional relationships with co-workers. I would not want my reputation ruined over an incident in the restroom that was caused by forced intimacy of how the facility is built. I would hope that a company would take charge and provide their employees with the privacy needed to keep their dignity.