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Climate Change May Cut the World’s Coffee Supply by Half

Sep 23, 2016 04:17 AM EDT
A recent study suggests that climate change may cut coffee production by up to 50 percent in a few decades, which could lead to supply shortages and increased prices.
(Photo : acekreations/Public Domain/Pixabay)

Climate change is affecting the world's coffee supply. According to a new report from The Climate Institute, an independent research organization in Australia, the global area suitable for coffee production could be cut by up to 50 percent in a few decades due to the effects of climate change. This could result in coffee supply shortages and increased prices.

"We're fearful that by 2050, we might see as much as a 50 percent decline in productivity and production of coffee around the world, which is not so good," Molly Harriss Olson, chief executive of Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand, which commissioned the report, said in a statement.

Coffee is the second most valuable commodity exported by developing countries and is worth around $19 billion worldwide in 2015. People all over the world are drinking around 2.25 billion cups of coffee a day. However, coffee production is barely keeping up. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, coffee bean inventories are expected to drop to a four-year low in the 2016-2017 growing season due to lower shipments.

Coffee is known to thrive best in tropical regions, but they are the most vulnerable to climate risk. The top coffee-growing countries such as Honduras, Nicaragua, Vietnam and Guatemala are in the top 10 countries most affected by climate-related damages.

According to the report, rising temperatures will cause dramatic shifts in where and how much coffee is produced all over the world. For instance, Mexico could lose most of its coffee plantations by 2020, and the same could happen to Nicaragua by 2050. Moreover, Tanzanian Arabica plantations could suffer critically low yields by 2060.

Climate change has also caused pests to quickly spread across coffee plantations and affecting the crops. Coffee leaf rust has devastated over 50 percent of crops in Central America and Mexico, which produce 15 percent of the world's Arabica coffee beans combined. The fungus eats away coffee plants and thrives in warmer climates.

The effects of climate change on coffee supply have been recognized by leading coffee companies such as Starbucks and Lavazza. According to a report by Quartz, Starbucks is on a move to replace roya-damaged coffee trees and the coffee company Keurig Green Mountain is supporting research on coffee preservation.

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