Added: 23rd October 2015
According to recent estimates, global production of coffee needs to increase by at least 40 million bags in the next decade to keep up with the high demand.
One of the main reasons why a shortage of coffee has become apparent is climate change. Farmers in coffee-producing countries such as Nicaragua, El Salvador, Mexico and Brazil, which is currently the world’s largest coffee producer, have experienced rising temperatures and irregular weather patterns. This has hugely affected crops of coffee plants and has led farmers to experience lower yields of coffee beans and poorer quality overall. Brazil also suffered a severe drought in 2014 which saw coffee production fall to new lows.
Furthermore, coffee is becoming more and more popular in developing countries such as China, India and Brazil. Whereas these developing countries used to only produce coffee and the developed countries of the world consumed it, it is fast becoming a favourite for the former parts of the world. This, coupled with the damage caused by climate change, could see a global coffee deficit unless something drastic is done to increase supply.
The question of what to do about this coffee shortage has been the focus of many worldwide roasters. Growing coffee at high altitudes helps to combat high temperatures and as coffee plants thrive in cool, high-altitude conditions, many South American farmers have already begun to adapt to the changing climate and have moved their farms further up in to the mountains. However, it seems that a more significant change needs to be made in order to keep up with demand.
Not only has Starbucks recently purchased coffee farms in the mountainous regions of Costa Rica in order to carry out research into creating a coffee plant that can better withstand droughts and plagues, this coffee giant is also said to be looking at introducing Chinese coffee to the world. Plans to open more coffee shops in China will mean even higher demand and in the last year alone, there has been a 13.8% growth in the coffee market in China. One way to level out supply and demand is to grow coffee in alternative locations such as the Pacific region, Asia and East African countries as crops can be grown at higher altitudes.
As well as Starbucks, rumours have been circulating that Switzerland-based Volcafe Ltd has partnered with the Simao Arabicasm Coffee Co. to promote the growth of Arabica beans in Yunnan, China. The Yunnan region already produces as much coffee as Costa Rica and production increased from around 100,000 60kg bags in 1998 to well over 1 million 60kg bags in 2013.
If all goes to plan, China could easily become a new influential player in the coffee game and is well on the way to becoming a crucial producer in the coming years.