Climate change in coming decades will put the squeeze on beer supplies by impeding the production of a key grain needed for the brew - especially in Australia, a climate scientist warned Tuesday.
Jim Salinger, a climate scientist at New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, said climate change likely will cause a decline in the production of malting barley in parts of New Zealand and Australia. Malting barley is a key ingredient of beer.
''It will mean either there will be pubs without beer or the cost of beer will go up,'' Salinger told the Institute of Brewing and Distilling convention.
Similar effects could be expected worldwide, but Salinger spoke only of the effects on Australia and New Zealand. He said climate change could cause a drop in beer production within 30 years, especially in parts of Australia, as dry areas become drier and water shortages worsen.
Barley growing parts of Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales would likely be harder hit than growing areas in New Zealand's South Island.
''Most areas in Australia where malting barley is cropped are likely to experience producing declines,'' he said.
''It will provide a lot of challenges for the brewing industry,'' even forcing breweries to look at new varieties of malt barley as a direct result of climate change, Salinger said.
New Zealand and Australian brewer Lion Nathan's corporate affairs director Liz Read said climate change already was forcing the price of malted barley, sugar, aluminum and sugar up.
Read said as well as climate change, barley growers were competing with other forms of land use.
In the past two years pressure on cropping land in New Zealand had increased with the expansion of the dairy industry, fueled by major international dairy commodity prices rises. (AP)