Food prices will rise by around five per cent in 2050 due to the impact of climate change on crops, according to a new study in journal Agricultural Economics.

The report, by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), in Germany, warns of “drastic increases” in food prices as the agri-industries adapt to climate change by switching land to energy crop production instead of food.

But it concluded that global food markets would be more affected by unmitigated climate change than by an increased bio-energy demand.

Researchers used models to anticipate a scenario when expansion of the bioenergy sector will be part of a global effort to reduce emissions.

Christopher Schmitz, leader of research on cropland, said the world would require 320 million hectares of cropland in 2050, instead of about 200 million.

He warned that most of the demand for new cropland would be from South America and Sub-Saharan Africa.

He said: "This could be bad news as in those regions, in order to gain additional cropland, centuries-old rainforests are cut down.

“This does not only increase carbon emissions but also harms biodiversity and threatens important ecosystem services."

Lead researcher Christoph Müller said potential climate change impacts on crop yields are strong but vary widely across regions and crops.

He said that a more flexible global agricultural trading system would be needed to ensure that areas that see increases in production can help compensate for those areas that see steep falls in agricultural yields.

Courtesy of Fresh Produce Journal: