your macro-economic supply-side fix

December 29, 2005 – 12:42 pm

i get some of my cheapest specialty coffee from bizarrely transplanted locals who direct-import their stuff from a plantation in zimbabwe. wonder how this news — the massive spike in the country’s basic food prices — will affect coffee’s cost and/or supply.

of course, that is far from the biggest concern. key graf:

Aid agencies estimate that 70% of Zimbabwe’s 12 million population now survive on one meal or less a day…

i’ve been told that my local suppliers (who are white) manage to keep their coffee farm going in the face of the government’s “reparative” seizures of white-owned land because their primary product is milk — and leaders of the former british colony love that cream with their tea. the ancillary product, then, protects the coffee crop and preserves white ownership.

but what if food prices get so high that coffee in general can’t not be affected? or what if demand for basic food becomes so dire that coffee growers just ditch the crop for other, more lucrative commodities? it’s a stark problem, possibly. and made all the more interesting by the global link to macro-political shifts that is single-origin coffee.