Chocolate lovers, your beloved snack may have just been saved by another sweet treat: mangoes.
Scientists may have found a way to solve a potential impending shortage of cocoa, which could affect future chocolate production, by using mangoes in lieu of cocoa to make chocolate, according to a study published in Scientific Reports, an open-access journal from the publishers of Nature.
"Wild mango is one of the so-called Cinderella species whose real potential is unrealized," says Sayma Akhter, the study's senior author.
Global cocoa production has been down in recent years due to a handful of factors, including changes in climate and crop failure, while demand has been on the rise, according to experts. Cocoa producers also have been accused of unfair labor practices, including employing child laborers and underpaying farmers.
Wild mango butter, the study says, may be chemically and physically similar enough to cocoa butter to act as a replacement.
The study's authors also believe the potential commercial benefits of the fruit could be a boon to conservation efforts. "Going beyond the use to industry, wild fruits like the mango are an important source of food, medicine and income for rural dwellers, but are in decline due to drivers such as deforestation," said Morag McDonald of Bangor University, another of the study's authors. "Adding value to underutilized products through processing for products that have market value can generate a valuable incentive for the conservation of such species and help to generate alternative income sources and reduce household poverty."