Follow for more talkers

Warming world could lead to more expensive wheat

Global wheat prices would become higher and more frequent in a warmer world.

Avatar photo


golden wheat field and sunny day
(ESB Professional via Shutterstock)

By Danny Halpin via SWNS

Global warming could lead to spikes in wheat prices, a new study warns.

Using a new climate-wheat-economic model, an international research team has estimated that 2 ℃ of global warming would lead to higher wheat yields - but also higher prices.

Farmers growing wheat in higher latitudes would see greater yields as CO2 fertilization would cancel out temperature stress on crops.

But farmers in lower latitudes would see smaller yields which would drive up demand for imported wheat and therefore the price

The findings by scientists from six countries were published in the journal One Earth and suggest that overall, global wheat prices would become higher and more frequent in a world that is 2 ℃ warmer.

Previous researchers have said that lowering trade barriers and allowing wheat to be moved more freely could mitigate this climate stress.

The current authors said this would reduce the economic burden on consumers but it would have a mixed effect on farmers, lifting the income of wheat exporters but lowering that of importers.

Study lead author Tianyi Zhang, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said: “This counterintuitive result is initially driven by uneven impacts geographically."

harvesting, nature, agriculture and prosperity concept - young woman on cereal field touching ripe wheat spickelets by her hand
(Ground Picture via Shutterstock)

“Wheat yields are projected to increase in high-latitude wheat exporting countries but show decreases in low-latitude wheat importing countries.”

Co-author Dr. Karin van der Wiel, of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, added: "This leads to higher demand for international trade and higher consumer prices in the importing countries, which would deepen the traditional trade patterns between wheat importing and exporting countries."

Zhang also said that the more countries rely on wheat imports, the less self-sufficient they become, creating a vicious, negative cycle for less-developed countries in the long term that would see them becoming ever more dependent on wheat exporters.

Co-author Dr. Taoyuan Wei of the CICERO Center for International Climate Research said: “These results would potentially cause a larger income gap, creating a new economic inequality between wheat importing and exporting countries.”

Dr. Frank Selten, also of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute and co-author, added: “This study highlights that effective measures in trade liberalization policies are necessary to protect grain food industries in importing countries, support resilience and enhance global food security under climate change.”

Stories and infographics by ‘Talker Research’ are available to download & ready to use. Stories and videos by ‘Talker News’ are managed by SWNS. To license content for editorial or commercial use and to see the full scope of SWNS content, please email [email protected] or submit an inquiry via our contact form.

Top Talkers