Higher temperatures in Western Africa could send chocolate prices soaring, experts have warned.

Climate change scientists at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) have predicted mean monthly maximum temperatures could rise by as much as 2.3C by 2050 in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, which together produce more than half of the world’s cocoa. This increase, from around 33.1C now to 35.6C, would leave many areas too hot to grow cocoa by as early as 2030, they said.

“Already we’re seeing the effects of rising temperatures on cocoa crops produced in marginal areas, and with climate change these areas are certain to spread,” said CIAT’s Dr Peter Laderach. “At a time when global demand for chocolate is rising, there is already pressure on prices. This, combined with the impact of climate change, could cause chocolate prices to increase sharply.”

Dr Laderach warned that the Agneby, Lagunes, Moyen-Comoe and Sud-Comoe ­regions in the Ivory Coast, and the Western region of Ghana, all key growing ­regions for the crop, were particularly at risk.

He added that optimum cocoa-growing areas were currently at an altitude of between 100m and 250m above sea level but this could increase to 450m to 500m above sea level by 2050, putting pressure on smallholders.

Ghana-based Kuapa Kokoo, which owns Divine Chocolate, said it was working with its members on climate change issues and was piloting an agroforestry project to increase shade levels at cocoa farms.