Sorry, Google News, Coffee Production Is Setting Records, Not Declining

Among its top search results today for “climate change,” Google News is promoting an article claiming climate change is decimating coffee crops. The claim is ridiculous, as global coffee production is enjoying substantial long-term growth and set a new record in 2019.

The article promoted by Google News is published by an obscure website called Fast Company. The article is titled, “How to save coffee from climate change.” The article asserts, “Increasing temperatures are making coffee harder to grow and less tasty.” The article, not surprisingly, cites no real-world data to support its claim. Of course, no real-world data are available to support the claim, as coffee production consistently sets new records.

The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization reports coffee production nearly doubled between 1994 and 2018, with global production growing from 5.7 million tons in 1994 to 10.3 million tons in 2018.

Data from Statista, a global business data gathering and analysis organization show global coffee production was 129.2 million kilograms during the 2006/2007 crop year, rising to 170.94 million kilograms in the 2018/2019 crop year.

The International Coffee Organization reports coffee producers face problems not from difficulty growing crops, but because crop conditions and crop production is so strong that supply is outpacing demand. Rapid growth in coffee crop yields have driven coffee prices down. The 2018/2019 coffee production season marked the second consecutive year of declining prices amidst growing surpluses.

In the few areas where overall coffee production is declining, lower coffee prices rather than climate change are causing of the decline. Faced with low market prices, some coffee producers have shifted to growing other crops or ceased farming altogether.

The Fast Company article notes coffee production comes from a myriad countries. Nevertheless, Brazil easily produces the world’s most coffee beans. What’s interesting is FAO data shows coffee production has increased in almost every country discussed in the article. For example, between 1994 and 2018, FAO data show:

  • Brazil’s coffee production increased more than 172 percent;
  • Ethiopia’s coffee production increased more than 127 percent;
  • Indonesian coffee production increased more than 60 percent;
  • Coffee production in Viet Nam increased approximately 798 percent.

Concerning Fast Company’s claims that climate change is making coffee less tasty, the ongoing growth in coffee consumption argues strongly against such a subjective claim. Indeed, the article itself note the many the different hybrid varieties major coffee companies are growing and experimenting with to further enhance taste.

Sorry, Google News and Fast Company, but there is no climate coffee crisis. Coffee production keeps setting new records as the Earth modestly warms.

H. Sterling Burnett
H. Sterling Burnett
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., is the Director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News. In addition to directing The Heartland Institute's Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy, Burett puts Environment & Climate News together, is the editor of Heartland's Climate Change Weekly email, and the host of the Environment & Climate News Podcast.

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