The global cocoa market is buckling under the strain of unprecedented shortages.

A once-unimaginable rally that upended physical trading is now filtering rapidly through to the futures market. Prices that have more than doubled in just three months are forcing traders, processors and chocolate makers to stump up more cash to cover their trades or head for the exit.

That’s raising the specter of company failures like the ones that plagued European utilities during the recent energy crisis, when gas prices spiraled out of control and governments were forced to bail them out. There are fears it could be worse — some traders are even alluding to a nickel-type meltdown that rattled the London Metal Exchange.