New Zealand posts record hops harvest

New Zealand hops on the bine

New Zealand Hops has recorded a record harvest for the 2020 growing year, though has expressed concern about the likely impact of COVID-19 on sales.

The co-operative reports its members harvested 1,231,936 kilogrammes of hops, up 18% on last year. It said the increase was largely due to an increased yield per hectare.

“We also enjoyed a hot and dry summer here in Tasman providing excellent conditions for harvest which began in late February and ended earlier this month,” the report said.

Earlier in the month chief executive Craig Orr, had said the industry had been fortunate that the country’s March 26th lockdown had occurred at the end of the harvest window.

“We literally had 10 days affected on the receiving side, which was the tail end of Nelson Sauvin – our ‘big gorilla’ variety – and the green bullet which is an old staple,” Orr said.

Orr said that sales into the domestic market was likely to operate at a slight lag, due in part to package-enabled brewers drawing down on existing hop inventories.

However, with 80 per cent of its crop sent off-shore, Orr said the effect of Covid-19 meant its United States and British markets may take a hit.

“The US, where they use a lot more of the craft varieties, is in a bit of freefall,” he said.

“We’ve done some pretty sobering revisiting of our budget and there’s certainly some tough headwinds ahead, that’s for sure.”

Australian hop production numbers are not yet available, though in 2019 Hop Products Australia reported a production volume of 1,482 metric tonnes. Earlier this year the company opened a $35 million expansion in Victoria, including 110 additional hectares under trellis.

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