The world grows too many hops - and Germany continues to export to Russia

Too many hops are grown around the world.

The world grows too many hops - and Germany continues to export to Russia

Too many hops are grown around the world. In 2021, the harvest volume was greater than demand for the third year in a row, reports the world's largest hop trader BarthHaas from Nuremberg. "We urgently need an area correction in order to restore a balance between generation and demand," warns Peter Hintermeier, Managing Director of BarthHaas. "Otherwise there is a risk of distortions in the market."

Because the oversupply causes high price pressure, but at the same time there are massive cost increases, for example due to expensive energy, logistics, labor and fertilizers.

Growers around the world harvested almost 131,000 tons of hops last year. The largest producer country is the USA with 52,900 tons, closely followed by Germany with 47,900 tons. While in the five domestic growing areas - Hallertau, Elbe-Saale, Tettnang, Spalt and Bitburg - the proportion of aroma hops and bitter hops is balanced, the Americans primarily rely on aroma varieties, which are primarily used for hoppy craft -beer are needed and are responsible for flavors such as citrus.

The problem isn't the usual types like Hercules and Perle anyway. "There are too many of the peripheral varieties in particular," says Hintermeier. A total of 300 types of hops are grown worldwide, including a number of new breeds that are better able to cope with the increasingly extreme climatic conditions.

"Unfortunately, many breweries are not willing to switch to new varieties in production," says Heinrich Meier, author of the "BarthHaas Report", an annual hop and beer almanac that is considered the bible of the industry.

The weather plays an increasingly important role in hop cultivation. "We already had the first storm damage in the Hallertau a few weeks ago," says Meier. And now the soil has dried out so much that a reliable harvest forecast is not possible. "We hope for bearable temperatures in the coming weeks and above all for rain."

In Germany, hops are usually harvested at the end of August/beginning of September, and most of them have already been pre-contracted.

BarthHaas does not expect record earnings - which would be right and important for the market, as Meier emphasizes. Especially since hop growers around the world react differently to the abundance. While the last 1062 German hop farmers actually planted less in 2022 after seven years of increasing acreage, the acreage in the USA, France and New Zealand increased again.

According to the BarthHaas report, around 1.86 billion hectoliters of beer were brewed in 2021, four percent more than in 2020, which was weak due to the pandemic. Experts expect the production level to decline slightly in the current year.

China is by far the number one beer nation, followed by the USA, Brazil, Mexico and Germany. It is followed by Russia, which still gets most of the hops it needs from Germany. "Hops are not subject to any embargo," says BarthHaas boss Hintermeier. "Therefore, we are obliged to make further deliveries due to the contracts."

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