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We're running out of cocoa, but wild mangoes might be able to save chocolate

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The world's facing a cocoa shortage, which means chocolate is in trouble. Cocoa butter is necessary for chocolate as we know it, since it's the only natural fat that has the saturated fatty acids chocolate needs to taste like chocolate.

But, according to a release from the University of Bangor in the U.K. on Thursday, there might be a solution: Wild mangoes.

The fruit can be used to create a butter that's very similar to cocoa butter, but with more moisture.

The advantages of wild mango butter:

  • It's more moist, which scientists say leads to lower fat in chocolate
  • Wild mangoes have bigger kernels, which make them better for producing butter than mangoes you'd buy at the grocery store
  • It has more of a chemical called solid triglyceride than cocoa butter. That chemical is already added to chocolate to make it better
  • It has a "nutty flavor" that most chocolate lacks, according to a study in Nature
Wild mango is one of the so-called 'Cinderella' species whose real potential is unrealized.
Sayma Akhter, lead author of wild mango study

There's one problem, Bangor professor Morag McDonald said: Deforestation has made it harder to find wild mangoes.

But this discovery could save the mango. If it's used to make chocolate, now there's a strong reason for people and businesses to save its habitat, which is mostly in southeast Asia.

Wild Mango and Coconut Harvesting Costa Rica

This is what it looks like to harvest wild mango in Costa Rica.

This isn't just good news for people who love to eat chocolate. According to Bangor University, the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries also rely heavily on cocoa butter, the price of which more than doubled between 2005 and 2015, and demand is set to rise by 30 percent in the next four years. 

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