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Coffee and cocoa under threat from climate change

Everyday essentials including bananas, coffee and cocoa could be at risk of becoming ‘endangered’ due to climate change.

That’s according to a new report by the Food Foundation which showed how major producer nations for such commodities are particularly vulnerable to threats caused by climate change, deforestation, and biodiversity loss.

The report found almost a quarter (24%) of the UK’s total land footprint for annual coffee imports – almost 60,000 hectares of land – originates from countries like Colombia and Ethiopia considered to be highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Under certain emissions scenarios, as much as 50% of the global surface area currently used for coffee farming may no longer be suitable by 2050, due to the changing climate.

Chocolate production faces similar challenges. Over 350,000 tonnes of cocoa imported to the UK each year originates from countries where production faces risks including climate change and loss of critical ecosystem services. The report said studies suggest that many cocoa-growing regions in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire – which produce over half of the world’s cocoa – will likely become too hot to grow the crop by 2050.

Supplying UK demand for bananas, meanwhile, requires an estimated land footprint of over 34,000 hectares each year – an area about the size of York. Almost half (48%) of UK banana imports originate from countries with high climate change vulnerability.

“The UK sources a significant proportion of consumer favourites including bananas, coffee and cocoa from countries that face potential risks to future production, including from changes in the climate and the loss of biodiversity and habitat that provide ecosystem services that are critical to farming,” said Caitlin McCormack, senior consultant at consultancy 3Keel which carried out the analysis for the report. “It’s essential that we work with producers in these countries to help them shift to sustainable and resilient methods of production.”

Commodities like coffee are at the sharp end of price pressures being felt across the out of home sector. The Telegraph recently reported that high street chains such as Pret a Manger have had to hike the price of coffee by more than 50%. It cited data from World Coffee Portal which showed the average price of a latte increased by 33p to £3.25 in 2022, while the price of a cappuccino rose by 11.7%. Pressure on supplies along with increasing production costs such as energy and labour are to blame.