The Cocaine Supply Chain: The Human Cost of Supply & Demand

Even cocaine has a supply chain and is subject to the laws of supply and demand. We take a look at some of the numbers from UNODC’s 2021 World Drug Report.

275 million people used illegal drugs last year while over 36 million suffered from drug use disorders. That’s according to a recent report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The 2021 World Drug Report provides a global overview of the supply and demand of opiates, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamine-type stimulants and new psychoactive substances (NPS), as well as their impact on health, taking into account the possible effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report warns that cocaine supply chains to Europe are now diversifying, thereby driving prices down and pushing quality up and potentially increasing the level of harm caused by the use of the drug in the region.

Its many nicknames and Hollywood’s tendency to glorify the drug, and the trade, is a testament to its long-held global foothold. According to the UNODC, in 2019 there were 20 million cocaine users globally and that quantity seized worldwide reached a record high of 1,436 tons, 9.6 per cent higher than in 2018.

The report also claims that in 2019 the UK had some of the highest cocaine retail street prices in the world at $127 per gram. The US lagged ever so slightly behind at $120. Comparatively, in some parts of Europe, the drug can be found on the streets at half the price. Germany holds a street price of $60 while Belgium is reported to be at $57 per gram.

A few other interesting things to note from the reportof course, check out the report for many more):

• The drug industry has not been immune to the swift move to eCommerce and this could transform global use patterns.

• The number of drug users in Africa is expected to rise 40% by 2030.

• The COVID-19 fallout is likely to be felt in the drug market for years to come.


"The World Drug Report 2021 is aimed not only at fostering greater international cooperation to counter the impact of the world drug problem on health, governance and security, but also, with its special focus on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, at assisting Member States in anticipating and addressing challenges that may arise in the near future." 

Download The World Drug Report.



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