Coffee at a Crossroads

November 5, 2021 • Volume 31, Issue 39
Will a global industry adapt to multiple disruptions?
By Sara Toth Stub


Rising prices for coffee beans, along with a forecasted drop in supplies, show how climate change, pandemic-induced shipping bottlenecks and changing consumer habits are upending an industry that is key to economic growth in many developing countries. At the same time, the rising prices, greater demand for specialty products, more at-home brewing and higher consumption in many countries offer new opportunities for the industry — and for some coffee growers, who have often struggled to make a living. Meanwhile, industry leaders are growing more concerned about the sustainability of coffee, with its production increasingly concentrated in Brazil and Vietnam, as consumers demand food with less environmental impact and recent extreme weather events highlight the effects of climate change.

Photo of two cups of latte being served in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 1, 2021. (Getty Images/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Onur Dogman)
Some 400 billion cups of coffee are consumed annually worldwide, but the industry is being buffeted by rising coffee bean prices, pandemic-induced supply bottlenecks and changing consumer tastes that favor more specialty coffee drinks, such as these lattes. (Getty Images/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Onur Dogman)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Food Prices and Supply
Nov. 05, 2021  Coffee at a Crossroads
Oct. 18, 2011  Rising Food Prices
Jun. 27, 2008  Global Food Crisis
Aug. 04, 1978  Food Inflation
Nov. 01, 1974  World Food Needs
May 10, 1972  Food Prices
Mar. 25, 1970  Green Revolution
Nov. 23, 1966  Consumer Food Dollar
Jul. 28, 1965  World Food Shortages
Feb. 21, 1951  Food Price Subsidies
Jul. 12, 1950  Famine and Food Supply
Feb. 09, 1946  Food Subsidies and Parity Prices
Jul. 17, 1943  Food Supply
Bilateral and Regional Trade
Consumer Behavior
Economic Analyses, Forecasts, and Statistics
Exports and Imports
Farm Produce and Commodities
General Employment and Labor
General International Relations
Infectious Diseases
International Economic Development
Retail Trade
Small Business
Travel and Tourism
Unemployment and Employment Programs