Today, chocolate and coffee are, once again, at risk of becoming expensive and inaccessible.
“Chocolate and coffee could both become scarce, luxury foods again because of climate change,” says Monika Zurek, a senior researcher at the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford.
Vast swathes of land in Ghana and Ivory Coast could become unsuitable for cocoa production if global temperature rises reach 2C, according to a 2013 study. “Cocoa used to be for kings and nobody else. Climate change is hitting production areas hard…it could become more luxurious again,” says Zurek.
Climate change could wipe out half of the land used to grow coffee worldwide by 2050, according to a 2015 study. Another study suggests that areas suitable for growing coffee in Latin America could decrease by 88% by 2050 due to rising temperatures.
For thousands of years, spices were the epitome of wealth and power. Demand for aromatic spices sparked the first global trade routes, established vast empires and came to define the world economy. Today spices are ubiquitous and often the cheapest items on supermarket shelves. But they could revert to being luxury items, says Zurek.
Spice crops are already bearing the brunt of climate change.