Chocolate and the consumption of forests: A cross-national examination of ecologically unequal exchange in cocoa exports

This study explores the potential links between specialization in cocoa exports and deforestation in developing nations through the lens of ecologically unequal exchange. Although chocolate production was once considered to have only minimal impacts on forests, recent reports suggest damaging trends due to increased demand and changing cultivation strategies. I use two sets of regression analyses to show the increased impact of cocoa export concentration on deforestation over time for less-developed nations. Overall, the results confirm that cocoa exports are associated with deforestation in the most recent time period, and suggest that specialization in cocoa exports is an important form of ecologically unequal exchange, where the environmental costs of chocolate consumption in the Global North are externalized to nations in the Global South, further impairing possibilities for successful or sustainable development.

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