Climate Change Could Make Beer Prices Double, Study Says

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Beer joins other "luxury products" like coffee and wine that may be severely impacted by climate change.

The cost of a pint of beer could rise sharply in the US and other countries because of increased risks from heat and drought, according to a new study that looks at climate change's possible effects on barley crops.

In a climate-addled world where staple crops such as wheat, corn, soybeans and rice are predicted to decline in yield and nutritional value, pressure will likely mount to use barley as a source of food rather than to make brew.

That change is driven by a drop in barley yield, which could be as little as 3 percent or as large as 17 percent, the study says. To add insult to injury, prices for beer could increase anywhere from 15% to 50%.

An worldwide group of researchers estimate that future production losses could be as much as 17 per cent.

"While the effects on beer may seem modest in comparison to numerous other-some life-threatening-impacts of climate change, there is nonetheless something fundamental in the cross-cultural appreciation of beer", Guan said. Global warming could result in extreme weather, such as floods and droughts, which could jeopardise the lives of millions.

In a paper published Monday in Nature Plants, researchers said the supply and production of barley, the main ingredient of beer, are expected to drop by nearly 17 per cent by 2100, causing prices to double in some areas.

Mr Guan said beer price spikes and shortages might even affect social stability, noting the prohibition era in the U.S. saw organised crime supplying illicit liquor. Instead, a new study says beer prices could double, on average, because of the price of malted barley, a key ingredient in the world's favorite alcoholic drink.

Profitez de votre bière son prix va fortement augmenter en raison du réchauffement climatique
Beer shortage looming?

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To come up with this projection, the scientists looked at the impacts on barley crops and beer prices by blending climate, crop and economic models.

Under climate change, "the majority of countries will have a decline in barley", Guan said.

Climate change could reshape the barley and beer market, the researchers say, depicting a situation where China - which now drinks more Budweiser than the US - would scale back its beer consumption.

Indeed, when faced with overwhelmingly morbid projections for the future of the planet and the human race, many of us may reach for a beer.

However, Poland's pocket could be hit the hardest, with a worst case scenario prediction of a fivefold price increase.

The biggest importers are China, Saudi Arabia and Iran, with three top brewing nations - Netherlands, Belgium and Japan - just behind.

Citing prohibition in the United States and the subsequent emergence of the illegal liquor trade, Prof Guan also warned that the shortage could lead to similar disorder.

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