Chocolate prices are increasing in Europe just as the holiday season approaches. On August 14, 2007, Der Spiegel (Hamburg) said, "chocolate ... is set to get more expensive as raw materials go up in price. The crunch will be felt before Christmas."

The problem is the result of a nasty, ongoing conflict in the Ivory Coast, the world's biggest producer of cocoa, accounting for 40 percent of world output. In spite of the fact that there is a peacekeeping force in the country, rebels in the north and the government continue the struggle.

Serious allegations suggesting that the cocoa industry is involved in maintaining the conflict are widely reported. According to an April 27, 2006 brief distributed by the social activism organization Pambazuka News (Oxford, UK), "Stakeholders in the cocoa industry--mainly the government and foreign multinationals--have witnessed their profits triple since the war began in 2002."

More recently, an October 24, 2007 item included in the daily news briefing of the United States Embassy (Abidjan), and attributed to Fraternite Matin (Abidjan), the state owned daily newspaper, said, "the state prosecutor yesterday announced the beginning of probing into the alleged corruption in the cocoa-coffee sector in Cote d'Ivoire."

Numerous references to "blood chocolate" appear in other press reports from the region.

Nonetheless, chocolate is more popular than...

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