Regional disparities in impacts of climate extremes require targeted adaptation of Fairtrade supply chains

Related GLP Member: Ziga Malek, Melanie Feurer, Peter Verburg


  • Future climate extremes affecting Fairtrade banana, cocoa, coffee, and tea producers
  • Most Fairtrade producers across the globe will be affected by increased heat stress
  • Drought and extreme rainfall affect Brazil, Mesoamerica, East Africa, and South Asia
  • Timely adaptation measures needed for continued production and livelihood support

Science for society

Climate extremes can seriously affect supply chains of agricultural commodities, decreasing agricultural production and disrupting transport, which is detrimental to livelihoods of smallholders all around the world. We assess the extent of climate extremes by 2050 on Fairtrade producers of banana, cocoa, coffee, and tea. We find that globally, most of the 1.6 million producers within this supply chain could be affected by future heatwaves across all sourcing regions. However, for some crops and in some regions, producers could also be affected by considerable increases in drought and extreme rainfall. Without timely adaptation measures, production in major banana, cocoa, coffee, and tea regions might not be possible in the future, or farmers might need to diversify or change crops. Through spatially explicit analysis of a particular supply chain, we can support the planning of more climate-proof supply chains that can provide stable incomes and commodity supply under future climate change.


Supply chains of agricultural commodities, such as banana, cocoa, coffee, and tea, are vulnerable to climate change. Their ability to adapt depends on assessments of climate change impacts on producing regions. Such assessments are, however, missing despite available climate projections. Here, we analyze how drought, heat stress, and heavy precipitation could affect over 1.6 million producers within the Fairtrade supply chain by 2050 by using projections from general circulation models. Globally, Fairtrade producers will mainly be subject to increased heat stress. Drought might present particular pressures on Brazilian and Central American coffee producers and on tea producers in southeastern Africa. Heavy precipitation might become more common for producers of cocoa and coffee in the Andes, coffee producers in East Africa, and tea producers in South Asia. Our approach enables the identification of how sensitive different regions are to climate change, allowing for timely adaptation. This is crucial for continued commodity supply and sustainability of farmers’ livelihoods.