The Ebola epidemic has killed more than 4,000 people world wide and was yesterday deemed the most "severe acute health emergency in modern times" by the World Health Organisation.
As well as human devastation the disease has an economic impact. A world bank study recently estimated that if the epidemic was not contained Liberia could lose 12 per cent of its GDP by the end of 2015 and Sierra Leone 8.9 per cent. It predicted the two year financial impact could reach $32.6billion by the end of 2015. Fears are also growing that the epidemic in west Africa could spread to Ghana and the Ivory Coast, where 60 per cent of the world's cocoa is farmed. Ivory Coast also shares a border with Liberia and Guinea, two countries affected by the Ebola outbreak.
As the Telegraph reports today, economics at PwC have warned that the threat could push up the price of cocoa and create another 'bubble'. It quotes their chief executive John Hawksworth saying: "If these higher prices encourage more investment in new cocoa orchards, there could then be another bust in cocoa products in 2020s, just as the was in the 1980s following the 1970s cocoa price boom.
"The challenge for both policy-makers and confectionary companies will be to smooth out these boom-bust cycles, which can do great damage to the small farmers."