Record hop harvest but COVID warning: BarthHaas

Area under cultivation 2008 - 2019

Global area under cultivation 2008 – 2019

The 2019-20 growing year saw a worldwide increase in acreage under hops, crop volume and alpha acid volume according to the latest BarthHaas hop report.

While the global harvest was up, the report warned COVID-19 could have long term impacts on the industry due to significant declines in beer production, particularly in the craft sector.

Launching the annual hop report last week, report author Heinrich Meier said that in 2020 the area under hops increased by 1,100 hectares to a total of more than 62,700 hectares, with the highest production volume in more than two decades.

He said the total crop volume in 2019, of close to 130,000 metric tons, was the highest since 1993 and the volume of alpha acid produced in the 2019 crop was already the highest ever.

Meier said the market now has a surplus of alpha acid from the 2019 crop with the extent of this surplus dependant on beer output, which is forecast to have a significant impact on hop usage.

“The craft sector, which is so important for the hop industry, is suffering disproportionately because a large number of craft breweries depend on selling drinks on site,“ Meier said.

The report forecast beer output could fall by eight to 14 per cent year-on-year, which could see a decline in alpha acid demand of between 499 and 2,000 tons.

Meier said beer output would not return to 2019 levels until 2022, at the earliest.

“If it is not possible to restore the balance of supply and demand in close cooperation with all the parties involved, the productivity of the hop industry in the long term will be threatened by a rapid weakening that cannot be in anyone’s interest,” Meier said.

Earlier this year Hop Products Australia, part of the BarthHaas group, reported its local harvest increased by 81 metric tonnes to 1,554 metric tonnes – a rise of 5.5 per cent over last year. In addition to the 13 per cent increase for Galaxy year on year, HPA is set to announce the commercialisation of its experimental variety HPA-016 in November.

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

The annual BarthHaas report is a comprehensive overview not only of the hop market but a snapshot of the global geopolitical scene and how it impacts on the beer market.

Listen to our discussion about the 2020 Australian hop harvest with HPA Sales & Marketing Manager Owen Johnston on our BreweryPro deep dive. Full Transcript here.

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