For lovers of chocolate, future could be very dark
FROM RICHARD LLOYD PARRY IN TOKYO
GLIMPSED through its smoked glass windows, with its dim lighting and its watchful guards, the Cave du Chocolat in Isetan department store looks more like the premises of an exclusive jeweller than an upmarket sweetie shop.
Inside, beautifully turned out Tokyo ladies hover over chocolates from Switzerland, Belgium, France and Spain that glisten like brown gold.
The standard price is 300 yen (£1.50) for a single piece; the most expensive chocolates, containing foie gras, sell for 1,000 yen each. Prices such as these do not seem to blunt the appetite of Japanese shoppers, the most fanatical chocoholics outside Europe and America.
But now a shadow is looming over the worldwide chocolate industry — the threat of a worldwide shortage of cocoa beans, caused by a sudden epidemic of chocomania in Asia.
With chocolate consumption increasing at a rate of 25 per cent a year in the Asia-Pacific region, and 30 per cent in China, chocolate makers fear that coco- bean growers will not be able to keep up with demand. The unstoppable growth of China has aroused fears of future conflicts over natural resources such as oil, gas and water. Now a new and unforeseen catastrophe presents itself: global chocolate wars.
“It always seems to be the same with China,” says Yoshiko Ishihara, a 56-year-old housewife, who emerges from Isetan bearing a jar of deluxe chocolate spread for her husband. “They consume so much. Fish and oil are becoming scarce. But it’s hard to believe that one day I won’t be able to eat chocolate.”
The first chocolate in Japan was brought by Dutch sailors who gave it to prostitutes in Nagasaki in 1797. A century later the Morinaga confectionery company was selling chocolate at prices that few but foreigners could afford. By 2004, the average Japanese was eating 2.2kg (5lb) a year.
Compared with the British (9.2kg a year) or the world leaders, the Swiss (11.3kg a year), the Japanese have a long way to go. Annual consumption in China is smaller still at 50g a year, but its population of 1.3 billion, and its rapidly expanding urban middle class, make it the market of the future.
“Chocolate is still very expensive for Chinese,” says Fumio Sukegawa, of the Chocolate and Cocoa Association of Japan. “But even just 1 per cent of China is 13 million people, which is about the size of Tokyo. That’s why chocolate producers are concerned.”
Already chocolatiers are being paid the ultimate compliment in China — fake versions of their most famous brands. In January, Ferrero Rocher successfully sued a Chinese confectioner that had been producing rip-offs.
Cocoa beans grow in a narrow equatorial strip from South America through Africa to Malaysia. It takes five years for a tree to mature, which makes it difficult for growers to react quickly to spikes in demand.
Japan’s peak chocolate season is Valentine’s Day, when women give chocolate to boyfriends, husbands and male colleagues. But the confectioners have also been shrewd enough to establish a second sweetie festival next Tuesday, White Day, when men reciprocate with white chocolate, white cakes or white marshmallows.
The future of chocolate all depends on one thing — the degree to which the Chinese reject their traditional sweets. In Japan, chocolate is still outsold by wagashi, sweets made out of rice, beans and sesame.
A TASTE FOR THE EXOTIC
• The Japanese chocolate market is prone to changing trends. 3,000 new brands are launched each year, of which 2,960 are failures
• In 2002, a 10ft chocolate statue of David Beckham was crafted out of 3,000 bars in Tokyo, to promote the Meiji chocolate brand
• In the early 1990s chocolate consumption was boosted by a craze for tiramisu, following a feature about the dessert in Hanako, a fashionable magazine
• In an advertisement for the benefits of cocoa in 1998, Mr Takeuchi, aged 101 and still chairman of Daito Cacao, went on television to promote longevity through cocoa
• Last month, a chocolate sculpture of the score of Mozart’s Türkischer March was created and studded with 107 diamonds, to celebrate the composer’s 250th birthday
• Strawberry-flavoured chocolate is one of the most popular varieties
Nation divided over migrant student told to pack her bags
BY ANTHONY BROWNE
A muslim pupil facing deportation from the Netherlands has fuelled debate over immigration laws
IT IS a lesson that Taida Pasic and her Dutch classmates will never forget.
The hush of the classroom was shattered when immigration officers stormed in and snapped handcuffs on the 18-year-old pupil and took her under police escort to a deportation centre.
She was four months away from taking her final exams and aspired to a place at university. Now she faces expulsion from the Netherlands and a life of uncertainty in a homeland that she barely knows.
Ms Pasic’s plight has captivated the nation and provoked a furious debate over the Dutch Government’s hardline policy on immigration. More than 70,000 people signed a petition in support of the Muslim girl, who has been inundated with marriage proposals to save her from deportation.
Ministers are arguing in public over the impact of the repatriation of up to 26,000 failed asylum-seekers and the Netherlands is left to consider what has become of the liberal traditions that have helped to forge the nation. Ms Pasic is one of thousands of refugees whose asylum applications were turned down and whom the Government has vowed to deport by the summer of 2007.
Her family fled the war in Kosovo more than six years ago and, having spent her formative years in the Netherlands, she is more Dutch than Kosovar. She dresses like any Dutch teenager and peppers her speech with youthful slang. She is one of the top students in her school.
The Pasic family were ordered out of the country in return for a resettlement fee of €7,000 (£4,800) and the teenager bade farewell to her classmates and left for Kosovo. The family found that they no longer had a home there, and moved to Sarajevo, in Bosnia, trying to find work and accommodation.
Ms Pasic slipped back into the Netherlands in January on a French tourist visa in an attempt to complete her education, a move that Rita Verdonk, the Dutch Interior Minister, described as fraud. And despite strong sympathy for the teenager, opinion polls suggest that a small majority of Dutch people support Ms Verdonk.
But the case has caused divisions in the Government, a vote in parliament and an official inquiry into Ms Verdonk. The once-liberal nation that has turned against immigrants is so split that even the leader of the far-right List Pym Fortuyn Party, which campaigns against immigration, said that Ms Pasic should be allowed to stay to finish her exams.
Long-simmering resentment over the perceived failure of many immigrants, especially those from Muslim countries, to integrate has led to widespread support for some of the toughest immigration rules in Europe.
The level of immigration to the Netherlands has fallen sharply, but support for the tough rules is starting to waver as voters face up to its human cost. At this week’s local elections, anti-immigration parties lost support while left-wing ones performed well.
The courts ordered Ms Pasic’s release so that she could continue her studies pending a review of her case. But this week the Immigration Minister announced that Ms Pasic must leave by March 28. Although Ms Pasic may have no legal case for staying, her supporters say that she has a strong moral case. “It’s so mean. I have the feeling this isn’t even about me anymore,” she said in one of a series of interviews last week.
Referring to the fight to be allowed to graduate, and her newfound celebrity status, she added: “I didn’t choose this. But I am choosing it now, because I’ve already come so far. That’s not so crazy, is it?”
The case caused a public split in the Government when Maria van der Hoeven, the Education Minister, came out in support of the teenager in her weblog, revealing that she had been writing letters to her supporters, saying that she should be allowed to stay.
Killer father deranged by tennis is jailed for 8 years
FROM CHARLES BREMNER IN PARIS
A FATHER who was obsessed with making tennis stars of his children was jailed for eight years after he was convicted of causing the death of one of his son’s opponents and drugging 27 other young players.
Christophe Fauviau, 45, had pleaded guilty but claimed that he had been mentally disturbed when he put large doses of Temesta, an antidepressant, in players’ water bottles before matches with Maxime and Valentine, his son and daughter.
Alexandre Lagardère, 25, was killed in 2003 when he fell asleep and crashed his car after a match with Maxime Fauviau, who was 16 at the time. Experts told the court at Mont-de-Marsan, southwest France, that there was little doubt that the drug had caused the crash. Seeking a sentence of half the 20-year maximum, Marc Makoviack, for the prosecution, told the court that Fauviau, a former army helicopter pilot, was “a complex man; calculating and a liar . . . who turned his children into objects of his own fantasies of success”.
Addressing Fauviau, he said: “Nothing stopped you: players collapsing on the court, the sight of stretchers, of an 11-year-old girl, a young woman who collapses against a fence.”
The prosecutor also spoke of Fauviau’s good army record as a warrant officer flying instructor and added: “You are not a villain. You never intended the death of Alexandre Lagardère; nor to injure the victims.”
Lawyers for Alexandre Lagardère’s family said that they were disappointed with the sentence last night Fauviau, who never told his family what he was doing, wept as he begged the Lagardère family to forgive him. “It’s something that completely took me over and I couldn’t imagine that I could be responsible for the death of your son,” he said. “I never wanted things to come out like this.”
Psychologists told the court that Fauviau had personality problems because of neglect and sexual abuse in his childhood.
Catherine Fauviau, his wife, described him as a perfect father who had been taken over by his obsession with the tennis careers of Maxime and Valentine after leaving the Army in 2000. “He let himself be devoured by tennis. He was protective but, deep down, something was badly deranged.” If she had known that he was drugging players she would have left him or taken him to a psychiatrist, she said.
Valentine, 15, who attends a school for young tennis players, said that her father had developed “tennis sickness”. “Perhaps it was out of love. I don’t know,” she said. She said that she found it hard to believe the testimony from the 27 players about their sleepy state and dizziness as a result of her father’s actions.
“I never needed anyone to help me win. I think there was a lot of jealousy. It is like that in tennis, especially with the girls . . . there was nothing serious.” Maxime, 19, said: “He blew a gasket and didn’t calculate all the consequences. He’s too involved in tennis.”
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