A Bleak Future For Coffee?
With exports worth $15 billion a year, coffee is the second most traded commodity after oil. But according to a recent article in New Scientist, climate change could put the world’s coffee crop at risk. That could be unpleasant for the billions of coffee drinkers around the globe, but spare a thought for the 26 million farmers who also depend on the crop.
Readers of our article on Jasper Coffee know that Wells Trenfield maintains close relationships right through his supply chain, right back to growers in Ethiopia, Honduras, Cuba and many other countries. We asked Wells for his perspective on the future of the world’s favourite recreational drug.
“I attended 2 years ago, the Forum for Sustainability in the Coffee Industry at SCAA (Specialy Coffee Association of America), where much was discussed around this very research and findings. We have been witnessing the turbulence within the growing areas for a number of years now, which has resulted in loss of a range of coffees from various countries. People don’t quite hear this sort of story because the brown stuff keeps flowing from somewhere. PNG is the latest to be hit, along with East Timor. If Brasil had not had a bumper crop last year then this article would be all over the press.
“The big hit will come when Brasil, Colombia and Ethiopia all together have the hit. The real price for a cup of coffee will be discredited as middle men again just bumping up the price, and the Roasters get blamed for everything anyway. Climate is just too mundane since it happens every day.
“The lack of recognition is the scary thing. The big corporates are in denial when it comes to coffee. This year we have attended to several corporate contracts where they want the product for less than it costs to produce it. Still living in the good ole 80’s.
“We will see coffee companies go to the wall soon. Coffee is currently cheaper than 15 years ago…. Ask a grower how scary that is.”
New Scientist asks “If changing temperatures and rainfall patterns kill off coffee, will that finally spur us into action?” That is a very good question.