The Hop Research Council (HRC), a non-profit organization that funds and directs hop research to benefit the U.S. hop industry, will lose one of its most dominant sponsors. MillerCoors, the second largest brewer in the country, will cease funding the HRC in 2019 and beyond due to “continued beer industry headwinds and the resulting budgetary constraints.” In 2017 MillerCoors contributed $100,000 which represented approximately 16 percent of the HRC’s revenues.
MillerCoor was also tired of an “inequitable” split of contributions to HRC across the brewing industry and the fact that non-members profit from the research without funding it. The brewer said in a letter to HRC he was “supportive of an initiative to review how public research and varietal development is funded by the hop industry so that all organizations that benefit are contributing equally.”
During a meeting on Oct. 18, members of the Oregon Hop Commission discussed possibilities to finance the future work of the council such as a tax on beer sales or a “penny per pound” fee on popular public hop cultivars.
Even if a few other contributors would stop funding the HRC, the council would not stop working. “The biggest risk is that we wouldn’t be able to fund many research projects,” said Michelle Palacios, administrator of the Oregon Hop Commission. This relates especially to research or breeding projects which take several years to carry out.