High Priced Coffee Rationing: Next Product of Climate Change?

Shortages of supplies are not a new problem. Countries across the globe have experienced them due to drought, catastrophic weather conditions, or war. The US set up rationing in 1942 to prevent price gouging and to give everyone an equal chance of obtaining resources. This was due to diverted food resources, lack of transportation for goods, and limited imports. The list of rationed goods grew over time, and coffee was added in November 1942. Although rationing ended at the end of the war, we may see it returning for one important resource – coffee.

Great tasting coffee beans require the right combination of good soil, moisture, and temperature found within the Coffee Strip – the lands between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. In a recent study on the effects of climate change published by the National Academy of Sciences, the amount of Latin America’s coffee-producing land could be reduced eighty-eight percent by 2050. That is a vast reduction in coffee baring fields in just thirty-two years. The study also says climate change will affect the number of regional pollinators, reducing the coffee bean yield.

The demand for coffee is booming internationally. Reuters reported four coffee shops a day open in China, about 1,000 a year open in Europe, and in Britain the number of shops passed 20,000. With that growth, the rate of consumption surpasses the amount of beans produced. In 2014 alone, growers produced 143 million bags of coffee, but the world consumed 150 million bags. If climate change continues and coffee production keeps reducing, we may be rationing our coffee sooner than we thought.

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