Some in the world’s chocolate markets see the hefty premium charged by the largest cocoa producers as a blunt instrument wielded by the OPEC of confectionery — the tool of a faraway cartel that artificially inflates the price of a precious commodity.

But to the leaders of the Ivory Coast and Ghana, where most of the world’s cocoa is actually produced, the argument is something else entirely: a lifeline for farmers who would otherwise be held hostage by raw-material giants.

Now those competing viewpoints — globalization as seen in a chocolate bar — have collided in spectacular fashion, thrusting the normally secretive machinations of some of the world’s biggest chocolate companies, cocoa traders and processors into rare public view.