World: Alpha acid balance negative for the sixth year in succession

The acreage cultivated with hops continued to grow also in 2017, rising worldwide by five per cent year on year to 58,700 hectares (ha). In the last four years it has increased by 27% due to a renaissance of hoppy beer as a result of the rise of craft beers. According to projections of Joh. Barth & Sohn, which published on Thursday its yearly Barth Report on hops and beer, 2018 will see a further increase to 60,400 hectares.

The biggest hop-growing countries in 2017 in terms of acreage share were the USA with 38 %, Germany with 33 % and the Czech Republic with 8 %. In the Pacific Northwest region of the USA, the respective shares of the aroma and bitter varieties were 77 % and 23 %. The most important varieties in acreage terms are CascadeCentennial and Citra®, all of them aroma varieties, with a combined share of 33 %. The most important bitter varieties are Columbus-Tomahawk-Zeus (CTZ), with 9 %. 2018 has brought an acreage increase of a further 800 ha.

In Germany, the ratio of aroma to bitter varieties was 57 : 43. The bitter hop Herkules was the most important variety, with a share of 30 %, followed by the aroma varieties Perle and Hallertau Tradition, with 15 % and 14 % respectively. The acreage increase in 2018 totals 600 ha, of which 500 ha is accounted for by the bitter variety Herkules.

In the past one to two years it has been noticeable that flavour varieties, i.e. the particularly aroma-rich hop varieties especially suited for craft beers, have been expanded beyond brewers’ requirements, probably not only in the USA and Germany.

While crop and alpha acid volumes in Europe were lower than in crop years 2017 and 2016, those produced on the American continent were significantly higher.

118,400 metric tons of hops were harvested worldwide in crop year 2017; this represents an increase of 6 %. The world crop volume in 2017 was therefore greater than it had been since 1996 when it amounted to roughly 124,000 mt. The USA, Germany and China contributed to this total with shares of 41 %, 35 % and 6 % respectively.

The harvested alpha acid volume of 11,250 metric tons set a new record. Here, too, the USA was the dominant country, with a world market share of 47 %, followed by Germany with 36 % and China with 4 %. This means that two countries (Germany and the USA) account for 76 % of crop volume and 83 % of alpha volume. The remaining 24 % and 17 % respectively are produced by the other 25 hop-growing countries.

Barth expects virtually no change in world beer output, but a further slight rise in the hopping rate, in the 2018 brewing year. This means that alpha demand will be higher than ever before. The alpha acid balance is negative for the sixth year in succession.

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