Climate change could destroy half of the world’s prime coffee growing land, according to Swiss scientists, which will push up prices for caffeine cravers.
The study published last week, which looked at how a moderate climate increase would impact the harvest of coffee, cashews and avocados, found that the world’s largest coffee producer – Brazil – could see its most fruitful coffee-producing land decline by 79 per cent.
Coffee, which already has a global revenue forecast of £344bn for this year according to Statista, will swell in price as it becomes increasingly harder to grow.
Though prices have already started to climb.
Arabica beans, which are favoured by café chains such as Starbucks and Pret a Manger, reached as high as $2.39 per pound in November, their highest level since 2012.
“Climate change will reduce the amount of coffee available, higher temperatures make the fungus that creates coffee rust more prevalent. It’s the higher end coffee – Arabica, that is more vulnerable to this. Unchecked, this will drive up prices,” Neil Shah, executive director at Edison Group, told City A.M.
“Innovation does provide a window of hope – it is thought that genetically modifying the Arabica coffee with some of the properties of Robusta that make it withstand disease could be achieved and so mitigate this problem.”
The coffee industry is working to mitigate some of the changes that global warming will bring, a British Coffee Association spokesperson explained, in a bid to maintain the current geographical spread coffee production has today.
“Sustainability is the key priority for everyone working in the coffee supply chain,” a British Coffee Association spokesperson said, adding that the Swiss findings are “the latest in a number of studies looking at the potential for changes in coffee production between now and 2050.”
They added: “The work the industry is undertaking offers the opportunity to mitigate some of the scale-of-change that is being talked about.”
“The aim is to sustain the availability of coffee variety that consumers recognise”, the spokesperson added, as the alternative for coffee shops will be forced to turn to harsher tasting beans such as Robusta.