Study warns climate change may bring major beer shortages

A study published in Nature Plants warns that climate change could lead to beer shortages, and those beer shortages could then lead to big price increases. The issue stems from drought and excessive heat that could drastically reduce barley crop yields, a vital ingredient used to make beer. Instances of severe climate change could reduce the global beer consumption by 29 billion liters.

The research comes out of the University of East Anglia, which found that severe droughts and similar issues in coming years may greatly reduce barley yields. Depending on how severe these climate events play out, researchers estimate the average barley crop loss could range from 3-percent to 17-percent.

In the worst case estimate, this could result in a global beer consumption reduction of 16-percent, which works out to 29 billion liters. According to the study, that is equal to about the amount of beer consumed in the United States every year. As well, the shortages would result in price increases, which researchers estimate would double.

Though that looks at the extreme examples, less extreme climate events could still have a significant effect on beer output and price. The study found that in the milder range, beer consumption could still decrease by 4-percent with a price hike of around 15-percent.

Beer joins other "luxury products" like coffee and wine that may be severely impacted by climate change. Coffee farmers have already experienced debilitating droughts that, in some cases, have destroyed entire coffee crops. Droughts aren't the only issue, though — some coffee production has been impacted by higher than usual humidity, which spurs certain plant diseases and pests.

SOURCE: EurekAlert