Rain saves German hop harvest

Germany’s hop harvest has been saved from “disaster” after a bout of late summer rain has meant that there is now “sufficient market supply,” but prices are likely to remain high.

Germany is the world’s second largest hop producer and, together with the USA, provides 75% of total supplies. Industry experts have predicted that the volume of hops harvested will increase in America and decrease in Germany this year.

Speaking to Reuters, Stephan Barth, managing partner of Barth Haas – a supplier of hop products and services with branches in Germany, the USA, the UK, Australia and China – said: “The Harvest in Germany was only about seven days away from disaster because of dry weather in June and July.”

“Rain in August meant we were saved by the bell and I expect an average German crop,” he added. Barth also predicted that hop prices would continue to be high despite “sufficient market supply”.

On average Germany and the United States both export 26,000 tonnes of hops each year. According to USA Hops, in 2016 a total of 20,581 hectares of hops were harvested. This year, with harvest now underway, a total of 21,908 hectares have been strung for harvest. Last year, around 39,500 tonnes of hops were harvested in America.

According to the International Hop Growers Convention, 18,598 hectares of hops were harvested last year in Germany.

Barth told Reuters that he predicts that the US harvest would amount to 45,000 tones, up from 39,500 last year. He estimates that the German harvest will deliver 39,200 tonnes of hops, down from 42,700 harvested last year.

Barth added: “Hop supplies for brewers will be adequate but I expect spot market hop prices to remain at current high levels because of small inventories and strong demand”.

He continued that the global demand for hops is growing at a rate of 1% a year driven in part by the craft beer boom. He revealed that despite a modest market share, craft beer places a comparatively large strain on hop supplies.

“The 2-2.5 percent share of world beer market held by craft beers consumes around 20 percent of the hop harvest,” Barth said.

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