Could Climate Change Kill Guacamole?
Bad news, people with taste buds: it seems guacamole may be climate change’s next victim.
Chipotle, Inc. warned in its recent annual report that “Increasing weather volatility or other long-term changes in global weather patterns, including any changes associated with global climate change, could have a significant impact on the price or availability of some of our ingredients.” On the chopping block? “In the event of cost increases with respect to one or more of our raw ingredients we may choose to temporarily suspend serving menu items, such as guacamole or one or more of our salsas, rather than paying the increased cost for the ingredients.” Holy guacamole!
The company’s focus on local, sustainable farming are a factor too—the company’s producers are less able to deal with worse farming conditions without raising their prices. And prices have already been climbing, the company notes. “For instance, two years of drought conditions in parts of the U.S. have resulted in significant increases in beef prices during late 2013 and early 2014,” they say. Some scientists say that production of guacamole could drop as much as 40 percent.
People have been freaking out and probably hoarding avocados since the news broke, but how bad will the guac shortage really be? “The sky is not falling,” Chipotle’s Chris Arnold said. “We have guac in all of our restaurants.” Is Chris Arnold to be believed? Perhaps—but this isn’t the first avocado-related tragedy to befall us. In 2013, low rainfall, late pollination, and unseasonably cool and cloudy weather contributed to some of the smallest avocados in recent history—up to 30 percent smaller than usual, with some the size of golf balls.