Hop Officials Urge Caution After Latest Surge in Production

With news that the 2016 hop harvest is more robust than ever, the head of the a U.S. hops trade group urges caution in contracting for the product to keep a balance in the hop market.

Hop acreage in the U.S. is in its fifth consecutive year of growth, up 18.5 percent across the board and 17 percent in the Pacific Northwest, where 40 percent of the global hop supply is grown. With the USDA estimating 13 million additional pounds of hops incoming, this would total a record 91.8 million pounds for Northwest producers who produce over 96 percent of the crop for America, a 16 percent jump from 2015.

In July, the International Hop Growers Convention released a 2016 world hop crop projection of 221.7 million pounds, 15.7 percent higher than 2015 production. While some may rejoice at the increase others in the industry are staying cautious to avoid over surplus.

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“We have seen the downside of this market before due to oversupply,” said Ann George the Hop Growers of America‘s executive director. “While we see a clear need, thanks to long shelf life, cost, and long-term commitment of growing hops, we encourage responsible contracting to ensure a stable market in terms of price and availability.”

After less-than ideal growing conditions last year in both the U.S. and in Europe, non-contracted brewers were left wanting a handful of new, highly demanded aroma varieties. This was despite an increase in overall U.S. production and a 10 percent increase of hops in storage, according to the USDA NASS report in March.

According to the report, “many baby yards in Washington and Idaho are exceptional, with production between 50 and 100 percent of mature yields expected.”

For brewing years 2016 and 2017, global beer output is expected to decline 2-3 percent.

Only strong growth in the craft beer segment will offset these losses. According to a recent release from Brauwelt International, American craft beer production volume increased 8 percent during the first half of 2016.

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