Coffee and chocolate supplies in Europe soon could be disrupted by the climate crisis as droughts hit producer countries, according to a study.
The research also found a high vulnerability for palm oil imports, used in many foods and domestic products, and soybeans, which are the main feed for chickens and pigs in the European Union.
The scientists predicted a sharp rise in drought risk for EU agricultural imports overall. Only 7% were vulnerable over the last 25 years, but this grows to 37% in the next 25 years, even if carbon emissions are cut sharply. Shortages of supply could result in higher prices, they said.
The analysis only considered drought; other climate impacts such as flooding and increased pests could worsen the situation. However, some regions may have lower drought risk in future and might partially compensate for lost crops elsewhere.
“Climate change impacts are not just happening within your borders,” said Ertug Ercin, at R2Water Research and Consultancy and Vrije University in the Netherlands, who led the research. “The study gives evidence of how we are interconnected globally through trade and how climate-driven disasters outside our borders can touch our lives directly and can be really relevant to our society and economy. We cannot just ignore it any more.”
The study, published in Nature Communications, concluded: “In the near future, supplies of certain crops to the EU could be disrupted due to increased drought in other parts of the world. Coffee, cocoa, sugar cane, oil palm, and soybean are the most climate-vulnerable imported products.”
The EU consumes a third of the world’s coffee, and half of this comes from Brazil and Vietnam, which are highly vulnerable to drought as global heating increases, the report said, though Colombia and Kenya become less vulnerable. Heatwaves and leaf rust fungus are also damaging coffee growing.
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