Climate change will boost beer prices and shrink supply

Enjoy your beer while you can. Scientists are predicting smaller supplies and soaring prices thanks to climate change.
(Kris Connor / Getty Images for NYCWFF)
New York Daily News

Talk about a buzzkill.

Beer may be among the casualties of climate change thanks to its main ingredient, barley, struggling to grow during droughts and extreme heat, according to a new study. Supplies of the most-consumed alcoholic beverage in the world will suffer and prices will soar.

So if other effects of climate change like rising temperatures and more severe storms aren’t enough to get everyone’s attention, maybe this will.

For the study, published Monday in the scientific journal Nature Plants, scientists used best- and worst-case future climate scenarios and looked at their effects on crops and economics.

“We find that these extreme events may cause substantial decreases in barley yields worldwide,” the study states. “Average yield losses range from 3% to 17% depending on the severity of the conditions. Decreases in the global supply of barley lead to proportionally larger decreases in barley used to make beer and ultimately result in dramatic regional decreases in beer consumption and increases in beer prices.

“Although not the most concerning impact of future climate change, climate-related weather extremes may threaten the availability and economic accessibility of beer,” the study adds.

Among the more dramatic price surges possible, the study found that the cost of the barley-based brew in Ireland could rise by about 193%.

That’s because the largest price increases will be found in affluent areas as well as beer-loving ones, while countries where beer currently costs the most (like Australia and Japan) are not necessarily where future price hikes will be the highest.