The International Hop Growers’ Convention (IHGC) is an event and trade umbrella organization that focuses on helping the global hop industry network of farmers, merchants and other pros succeed and grow. Members come from 20 countries — 12 countries from the European Union, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Ukraine, Argentina and China. As its website notes: “Its core members are producers’ associations and trading companies with a keen interest in a global hop market.”
The IHGC definitely collects interesting data. Its Economic Committee collects and estimates statistics with a world hop scope — acreage, economics, alpha-acid production, weather, varieties produced, contracts, price levels and onward — each specific to a country. At the April 26 meeting of the International Hop Growers Convention, held in Freising, Germany, the organization released preliminary estimates for 2019 hop acreage for member countries. You can enjoy that above.
IHGC also released a Market Report, authored by Pascal Piroué of the Deutscher Hopfenwirtschaftsverband e.V. (basically the German Hop Farm Association). Here are some of its most interesting takeaways.
- Brexit scenarios, trade disputes between the United States and China, and various indicators pointing to a slowdown in the global economy have not taken any toll on global beer production, which is still driven by a prospering craft beer segment.
- The 2018 world harvest yielded 9,550 tons of alpha acid. This is matched by requirements for 9,200 tons of alpha acid for the brewing year 2019; the supply is thus guaranteed. However, the market balance varies by variety group.
- While excess produce of certain types of U.S. aroma are proving difficult to sell, the supply of high alpha varieties of all provenances is barely sufficient. This was reflected in the spot prices, which increased significantly shortly after the beginning of the harvest and have remained at a high level over the marketing period.
- The acreage of the 2019 harvest is expected to continue to increase in the low single digit percentage range with some variety-specific adjustments.
- As the high alpha areas continue to expand both in the United States and Germany, the areas for U.S. varieties such as Cascade and Centennial as well as the German specialty aroma varieties are set to contract further. However, these reductions are not regarded as adequate measures to stabilize the prices in this category.
- The 2019 crop is over 90 percent pre-contracted in the main growing areas, with only limited amounts of spot hops expected on the market.
- The persistent weakness of the Euro supports the competitiveness of European hops.
- Globally observable tendencies to restrict chemical crop protection remain as a major challenge for the entire hop industry (discussion around environmental and climate protection).
- The stabilization of weather-related crop fluctuations by breeding, the
cultivation of new varieties or comprehensive irrigation concepts continues to be an important task, especially in Europe.
- Rising minimum wages and a visible competitive pressure on skilled labor are issues that confront the hop industry around the world.