Global beer prices could on average double and consumption drop by 16% if barley production is hit by the effects of climate change, according to research.
The report, which modelled different climate change scenarios, found barley yields could drop by 3-17% depending on the severity of conditions. This would result in “dramatic regional decreases in beer consumption” and increases in prices.
“During the most severe climate events, our results indicate that global beer consumption would decline by 16% (roughly equal to the total annual beer consumption of the United States in 2011), and that beer prices would, on average, double (100–656% of recent prices).
“Even in less severe extreme events, global beer consumption drops by 4% and prices jump by 15%.”
The research, in the journal Nature Plants, measured the impacts of reduced barley yields on beer consumption in different countries, allowing for factors including international trade, the proportion of barley used for animal feed, current beer consumption and price variation.
The report said in 2011 the beer sector accounted for around 17% of global barley production, though this varies between countries, from 83% in Brazil to 9% in Australia.
Under extreme weather events the supply of barley could drop by 32% in Argentina and prices could rise by 193% in Ireland.
“Future drought and heat events will not only lower the total availability of barley for most key countries, but will also reduce the share of barley used for beer production,” said the report.
“Ultimately, our modelling suggests that increasingly widespread and severe droughts and heat under climate change will cause considerable disruption to global beer consumption and increase beer prices.
“Although the effects on beer may seem inconsequential in comparison to many of the other – some life-threatening – impacts of climate change, there is nonetheless something fundamental in the cross-cultural appreciation of beer.”
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