Our changing climate is affecting almost every aspect of coffee production. Just a little warming at the wrong time can in fact reduce yield, flavor, and aroma. In Tanzania, where about 2.5 million people depend on coffee for a livelihood, increases in nighttime temperatures since the 1960s have already caused yields to drop, and severe declines are expected as conditions continue to warm. In parts of Mexico, increasing temperatures could reduce coffee production by over 30%, making it unviable in the 2020s. With continued climate change, the world’s coffee production area will likely be cut in half by 2050. Wild coffee species, critical sources of traits for climate change resilience and pest resistance, might go extinct in coming decades. Globally, climate changes are also resulting in more disease and pest problems. Most harmful is the coffee berry borer, a beetle that is also spreading into new areas as they get hotter. Growing conditions have changed so much and a disease has become such a problem in areas of Central America that coffee production is no longer an option and some farmers are switching to cocoa, which thrives in the warmer weather.
Yields of major staple crops like wheat and rice are being hurt by increasing temperatures. Wine grape production is moving to cooler climes causing changes in the character of some of our favorites. The flavors and health benefits of teas, the size of potatoes, the sting of a hot pepper, where fish call home in the oceans, and a future decline in protein in vegetables—it’s all changing.
Our food database shows the ingredients affected by a changing climate.
To learn what farmers, scientists, and many others are doing to keep the menu stocked, see Stewardship of the Land and Our Changing Menu: Climate Change and the Foods We Love and Need. You have a role, too!
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This food ingredient database is in its early phase and we will strive to expand it on an ongoing basis so that everyone is aware of how climate change is affecting the foods we love and need.