Can Bees Alleviate the Impact of Climate Change on the Coffee Industry?

Your daily cup of Starbucks is about to get more expensive.

The International Coffee Association’s coffee benchmark price increased 85% compared to last year, settling at $2.07 per pound. Last week, coffee futures reached $2.46 on New York’s Intercontinental Exchange, the highest price since 2011. Bloomberg reported Arabica futures to be $2.5845 a pound in New York, a growth of 3.6%, marking the highest closing prices since 2011.

What do these numbers mean for us? It does not just mean spending more on our morning dose of caffeine. There is a more significant impact behind the coffee hike.

Major coffee exporting countries face internal hurdles that affect the world coffee export quota. Brazil experienced severe weather conditions, first a period of drought followed by the frost, causing Arabica prices to double at the end of 2022. Supply chain disruptions also mean that coffee prices will continue to hike for the rest of 2022. Ethiopia is on the brink of a civil war. Vietnam, another coffee producer, closed its border due to rising COVID-19 cases, which interfered with the coffee production and distribution.

It is not just consumers who feel this price hike. J.M.Smucker Co. raised prices in response to disruptions in their supply chain. Cafe Du Monde increased its prices by an average of 5% because of the higher prices for coffee beans.

It is more concerning when we take a look at the bigger picture. The coffee industry contributes significantly to climate change. The growing demand for coffee has led to a 60% increase in production. Coffee production is threatening the environment with deforestation and high usage of energy resources.

Brazil experienced drought and frost due to the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research estimated that 13,235 square kilometers were lost between August 2020 and July 2021. The Water Footprint Network reported that 140 liters of water were needed to produce just 125 millimeters of coffee.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a study predicting that climate change could reduce the coffee-suitable ground by up to 88 percent in Latin America.

Well then, how do bees come to play in this issue? As pollinators, bees can increase the coffee yield, responsible for about 20 to 25 percent of coffee production. Taylor Ricketts, the director of the University of Vermont’s Gund Institute for Environment, believes that “bees increase the quality of beans by making their size more uniform.” Climate change can change the pollination services, directly affecting coffee production.

To compact the effect of climate change and leverage the usefulness of bees, coffee farmers can:

· Increase the number of native species and maximize their diversity for continuous pollination over time.

· Increase forest proximity to influence the pollination service.

· Farmers can use shifting cultivation farming to alleviate the pressure of climate change on the plot of land.

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At Twin Bee Coffee, we believe bees are the most powerful resource for maintaining the sustainability of coffee farms worldwide. However, the species is an endangered one and that’s why part of our mission is to protect our pollinating partners so that they, and the coffee farms in which they live, can continue to thrive for years to come.

For more information on our efforts to create and empower self-sustaining communities for coffee growers in Burundi and beyond, visit twinbeecoffee.com.

This article is originally posted on Twin Bee Coffee's LinkedIn Newsletter

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