“The harvest in Germany was only about seven days away from disaster because of dry weather in June and July,” according to Stephan Barth, managing partner of Barth-Haas Group, the world’s leading supplier of hops and hop products. “Rain in August meant we were saved by the bell and I expect an average German crop,” he told Reuters.
This year’s hop crop in Germany, which has started now, will be around 39,200 tons this year. This is a decrease of about 8.2% or 3.500 tons in comparison to the year before (inside.beer, 3.11.2016). The deficit can be covered by the United States, which will after 2015 harvest for the second time in history more hops than Germany. Production in the U.S. will be about 45,000 tons, which is about 5,000 tons more than 2016.
Barth estimates that there will be sufficient hops available in the market but prices will remain high. Due to the increasing popularity of craft beer and beer styles like India Pale Ale, which use up to six times the volume of hops like common Lager beers, global demand for hops has increased about one percent per year.
The last five years have seen smaller crops than needed by the growing demand. “The 2-2.5 percent share of world beer market held by craft beer consumes around 20 percent of the hop harvest,” Barth explained the increased demand.
Two years ago, Europe experienced one of the worst hop crops in decades and hops supply fell short of demand which drove prices up. Luckily enough the shortfall could be covered by eating up stocks and last year’s record crop in Germany, which was the largest in 23 years (inside.beer, 10.10.2016). This year, we will have a more or less balanced supply and demand but an ongoing increase in usage of hops will not ease the tension in the future.