Raising the chocolate bar

Daragh Neville on an exposé of the cocoa industry

The World Today
3 minute READ

Daragh Neville

Former Projects Officer, Africa Programme


Kristy Leissle, Polity, £14.99


In 2015, the net sales of global confectionary giant Mars amounted to more than half of the GDP of Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s largest producer and processing country of the cocoa bean.

It is easy to see that all is not well in the global cocoa trade. Cocoa, written by Kristy Leissle, a lecturer at the University of Washington Bothell, furnishes the reader with a concise but comprehensive overview of the power, wealth and gender disparities that characterize the $100 billion cocoa industry.

The book takes readers on a tour of the history of cocoa production, from the bean’s humble Mesoamerican origins, to the effects of the Iberian conquests of the Americas, the impact of the Industrial Revolution and the colonization of West Africa, and the implications for the industry of the triumph of liberalism over mercantilism.

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