Yakima Chief Hops has Commitment to Customers, Environment

Because hops are one of the main ingredients in beer, obviously choosing the right hop supplier for your brewery is paramount. 

Yakima Chief Hops is a hop supplier owned by the growers themselves who are leaders in the agriculture community, and innovation is part of the company’s culture. By hiring employees that are passionate about the industry, they help brewers stay creative through continuous improvement and pioneering of new products and processes.

When dealing with new or potential clients, “I try to determine how YCH can best service their needs by asking detailed questions,” Jaryl Pence explained, YCH customer service specialist for the southern region. If needed, YCH representatives will direct potential clients to someone else in the company who can speak to their specific questions.

“It sounds rather rudimentary, but breweries — and our customer bases — come in all shapes and sizes,” Pence said, “and we frequently need to do some questioning and exploring with the customer to determine the products, varieties, and quantities that will best fit their requirements now and as they grow.”

YCH makes its hops accessible to all by going directly to consumers, as well as through online sales and through retailers and distributors. Brewers can speak directly with their own sales representatives to craft and maintain annual contracts, while others prefer the freedom to browse YCH’s online store and manage accounts themselves.

Apart from developing Cryo Hops, YCH’s employees continue to push the envelope and satisfy brewers’ needs.

Brewer spoke to YCH about its desire for success and innovation, environmental measures and customer service policies in an email with several of YCH’s representatives: Levi Wyatt, Corporate Social Responsibility Coordinator; Alex Rumbolz, Media Relations and Digital Platforms Manager; and Cait Schut, Public Relations and Corporate Communications Manager.

“[The employees] take the initiative to keep their ear to the ground in the brewing community and listen for any emerging trends or needs,” the YCH representatives said. “If it already exists, they seek to make it better. If it doesn’t, they collaborate on how to bring their ideas to life. It’s not a matter of trying to predict where the market is going. It’s a matter of listening to our customers and providing them with solutions.”

But growing hops is not exactly environmentally friendly, and Yakima Chief Hops commitment to quality doesn’t stop at satisfying consumer needs. It’s also doing its best to establish sustainable agricultural practices.

Aside from creating a sustainability management program, Green Chief Program, participating in a Life Cycle Assessment in which growers identified areas to reduce their carbon and water footprints, and recognizing the need for biodiversity and not spraying crops with as many pesticides, YCH, based in Yakima, Washington, installed an additional 50,000 square feet of solar panels in the summer of 2019.

“In Yakima, we are blessed with 300-plus days of sunlight,” YCH said. “With statistics like that, it was a no-brainer for us to invest in solar panels as a means to lessen our dependence from the grid system.”

Last year, the solar panels produced 360,000 kWh of energy for use in YCH’s facilities, with a goal of capturing 5% of total energy usage after installation of the new panels.

“Living in the Pacific Northwest, we have access to clean energy sources such as wind, hydropower, and solar,” YCH said. “YCH is striving to use an increased amount of renewable energy in all of our facilities.”

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