Climate Cast: No choco-pocalypse yet but cocoa could become scarce

Peace Coffee
Coffee and cocoa plants could be hurt by climate change.
Jennifer Simonson | MPR News file

The damage is just beginning, but climate change will impact the supply chains of major food companies.

Increased temperatures in growing areas could tamper the availability of crops such as cocoa or coffee.

The question is: How will companies adjust?

MPR News chief meteorologist Paul Huttner spoke to General Mills vice president Jerry Lynch about how climate change is viewed through the eyes of a major food supplier. Lynch is also the company's chief sustainability officer.

Lynch told Huttner that increased temperatures are likely to cause two things: frequent severe weather events and less water for crops.

Now, some crops are grown around the world, so if they're hit with severe weather, suppliers might have another crop growing elsewhere to tap into.

However, some crops such as cocoa, coffee, almonds and vanilla grow in more concentrated areas. If those are hampered by a severe weather event that would be devastating to the global supply of that crop.

"In many cases those crops [will] take anywhere between three to five years before a plant or a three becomes productive so replacement is a longer-term kind of question," said Lynch.

To hear more about the influence of crop availability on major food suppliers, use the audio player above.

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