Coffee ‘could become luxury item in UK by 2050’ due to climate change

Coffee could become a luxury item in the UK by 2050 because of climate change, according to experts.

Farmers in Peru are struggling to cope with climate change and low coffee prices, causing them to abandon their crops and turn to other sources of income.

The Arabica bean, which is used in the UK for flat whites and cappuccinos, is being farmed on ever-higher land as temperatures increase, making the land unsuitable for the crop.

Experts say that by 2050 up to half of the land used to grow coffee globally may become unsuitable.

This in turn may increase deforestation and cause the price of coffee to rocket as production volumes decrease.

Head of commercial partnerships at Fairtrade, Catherine David, said: “I think if we don’t invest now then coffee could become a luxury, longer-term.

“Because if 50 per cent of land currently used for coffee isn’t going to be suitable for it by 2050, and coffee farmers are abandoning their farms, there simply won’t be enough coffee, and so we could, conceivably, get to a point where coffee is no longer available for, say, £1.50 at Greggs, but becomes a premium product for only those who can afford to enjoy it.”

Ms David said the public would be “scandalised that brands, retailers and coffee shops that they are buying their coffee from aren’t doing more” if they were aware of the situation.

This is coupled with coffee producers being hit with other problems such as leaf dust disease, which stops leaves from photosynthesising and causing them to fall off.

The disease is also made worse by climate change.

An outbreak of the disease wiped out crops in Piura five years ago which lead to coffee production in the area to shrink from 80 per cent to 20 per cent.

In commercial hub town Tarapoto in northern Peru, farmers have been so hard hit by natural disasters that many have returned to growing the coca plant, which is the raw material for cocaine.

Many farmers are turning to different but lower quality varieties of coffee bean which are more resilient.

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