Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Beer Story

The "Demand and Supply" Story of Beer and its ingredient - Barley.

A disaster has occurred in Germany: The staple drink—beer—is rising in price. The reason is that there is a worldwide shortage of barley, a major ingredient in the brew. This has pushed up the price of barley, and shifted the supply curve of beer to the left. I would think that the shortage is temporary—with higher prices of barley, more farmers will plant the crop. That should alleviate the shortage, bring the price of this input back down, and after a year or two lead beer prices back more or less to their current levels. Not much consolation for those wishing to quaff the brew of the holidays, but their pain is probably going to be short-lived (and, if they drink enough, they won’t remember it anyway!).

Link to this article on Freakonomics, and the many more from the Economics Thought of the day.

Now consider these scenarios
What if due to higher prices, the consumer shifts to cheaper drinks - perhaps carbonated drinks, or decides to reduce the consumption of beer. Thus reducing the demand for beer.

1) The farmers on the other hand continue to grow similar quantity of barley shifting the supply curve and bringing down the price of beer

2) Due to reduced demand for Beer, the cost of barley reduces. Thus alternate uses of barley (bread?) become available for a lower price

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