At 8am on the T in Boston, you’ll see a host of sleepy commuters clutching their morning Dunkin Donuts coffee tightly in their grip. Over 2.25 billion cups of coffee fuel the global workforce per day. It’s a lucrative commodity that continues to grow each year; in the past 8 years, coffee production has expanded by over 20% (Coffee Barometer Report 2018). The traded coffee market is priced at about $19 billion--that’s almost 4 billion overpriced lattes.
Despite the seemingly ubiquitous nature of the commodity, five equatorial regions produce the bulk of the crop; with Brazil, Colombia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Honduras leading the way.According to the the 2018/19 FAS Coffee Production Forecast report, these three areas will produce approximately 107.8 million bags of coffee this year alone (6,468 kilograms!).
However, relying on a few primary regions to support a global coffee demand is unsustainable; climate change and disease threaten the future of coffee production. Arabica coffee, the most popular (and premium) strain, is not very genetically diverse, which makes it less adaptable to changing conditions. Increased humidity leads to a greater presence of disease (like rust) which has killed large swathes of the plant in previous years. The fluctuating yield that results from these factors leads to price instability in the market.
Researchers predict that by 2050, climate change could reduce the amount of ground usable to grow coffee in Latin America by up to 88 percent. In order to combat the effects of global warming, coffee must expand to new regions--and fast.
And as demonstrated by the rise in popularity of sustainably produced coffee, consumers are demanding coffee that is ethically and transparently sourced. Consumers want to know exactly how their Dunkin coffee got into their hands. This push for sustainability only heightens the need to locate new regions that are suitable for long-term coffee health.
That’s why it is necessary to use a dynamic, living map of the world’s food supply to locate the regions where coffee can thrive. As the climate changes, different areas will become more suited to coffee growth, which will require a shift in the coffee industry. Kernel provides an information-dense mapping platform that tracks minute changes in plant health on a daily basis.It provides a suite of agriculture insights that can help coffee buyers problem-solve in real time.
Through the application, users can:
As long as workers trudge to their 9-to-5s, coffee will always be staple commodity. In order to continue to produce high volumes of the crop, it’s necessary to proactively problem-solve for the changing environmental, social, and economic conditions.