Endangered ice cream? What climate change could mean for your favorite flavors

Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 4:46 PM EDT
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WATERBURY, Vt. (CBS) - Around the world, climate change has brought higher temperatures, extreme weather events and melting ice caps. The team at Ben & Jerry’s says climate change could soon impact popular ice cream flavors.

Cheryl Pinto is known as the “sorceress” at Ben & Jerry’s because she sources all the raw ingredients for flavors like Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch and Chocolate Fudge Brownie. She says cocoa, coffee, vanilla and nuts are harder to grow in a hotter world. Sixty percent of the world’s chocolate comes from West Africa where poor farmers are facing the effects of deforestation.

“Eighty to ninety percent of the trees are gone,” Pinto explained. “A lot of people don’t recognize when you start removing the forest you actually impact regional weather patterns.”

Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast that 90% of the area of West Africa currently used for cocoa cultivation won’t be able to grow the crop by 2050. NOAA also reports the type of coffee bean used in 70% of worldwide coffee production can not tolerate temperatures over 73 degrees.

Allen Van Deynze, a plant scientist at U.C. Davis, says farmers will need to adopt new species of endangered crops.

“Unfortunately where we grow coffee, which is more toward the equator, those areas are getting affected the most by climate change,” he explained.

But he remains optimistic.

“We’re finding varieties that can take the heat a little better and some crops are going to thrive more than others,” Van Deynze said.

But Van Deynze and Pinto agree new varieties will taste different and cost more to grow.

“What we have to do though is be very aware of where our food is coming from, and how do we support those farmers,” Pinto said.

She says in a warmer world, consumers should demand their cold treats are sourced well.

With water in such limited supply in California, Ben & Jerry’s is now considering growing almonds in Idaho.

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