International Beer Distribution Faces Effects of Mexican Drought

An existential crisis waiting to happen

Climate change could have a big impact on beer.
Patrick Tomasso/Unsplash

Here are two facts that, when taken together, could have a significant impact on the beverage industry. The first is that Mexico is the top-ranked nation when it comes to exporting beer. (The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and the United States are the next four.) The other is that parts of Mexico have faced drought conditions for much of the year.

If you think that an industry that requires water in order to operate might face challenges during a time of water shortages — well, you’re not wrong. In a new article for The New York Times, David Shortell and Lorena Ríos explored the impact of the drought on Mexican breweries — and, in turn, how that could impact beer on a global scale.

As the article describes, the issues aren’t necessarily that the breweries are short on water — it’s that in many parts of northern Mexico, everyday people are enduring water shortages while breweries have no such issues. It’s led the country’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to call for brewing to move to southern Mexico — though this hasn’t yet come to fruition.

The breweries’ current locations are where they are in part because of their proximity to the border with the United States, which makes sense from a logistical perspective but may no longer be feasible from an environmental one. There are other infrastructural issues that could also come into play here — including the prospect of literally building infrastructure for large-scale breweries elsewhere in the country.

It’s an unsettling issue for one industry in one nation — but with the effects of climate change, it’s likely to be joined by others in the months to come.


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