No surprise, demand for hops has increased dramatically with the swelling ranks of craft breweries in the U.S. and around the world. Fortunately, a record number of hops were planted in North American for the fourth year in a row.
According to Hop Growers of America, 8,303 new acres of hops were planted this year, an 18.5% increase over last year for a total of 53,213 acres which is the most acreage of hops ever in the U.S. That is on top of a 15.4% increase in acres harvested in the US in 2015, a 10.2% increase in 2014, a 10.3% increase in 2013, and a 7.2% increase in 2012.
“The US hop industry has been in catch-up mode in recent years as the supply of craft-popular US aroma hops has lagged behind the dramatic growth of the craft brewing sector in both domestic and overseas markets. The 2016 acreage expansion is once again a direct response to market demand and does not happen overnight. It requires significant planning and commitment of industry resources,” said Pete Mahoney, Vice President, Supply Chain/Purchasing at John I. Haas.
The Pacific Northwest led this expansion by planting 17% more acres of hops (7,482 acres) along with adding additional production capacity. With approximately 70% of new acreage being high demand proprietary varieties, 51,115 acres represent a new record for the region.
According to the USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service, craft-popular Cascade continues to hold the lead with 7,371 acres, and Centennial overtook bittering hop CTZ this year for second place with 5,009 acres.
“We’re very pleased with the U.S. hop industry’s ability to respond to the demands of a burgeoning craft brewing industry. However, we caution growers and brewers alike to remember the cyclical nature of a mature hop market, and the fine line between ample and over-supply which causes instability in supply and prices. Given the permanent nature of planting additional hops and the significant investment required to do so, restraint and an understanding of long time partnerships will be required from all involved to ensure a steady supply in the near and distant future,” said Kevin Riel, 4th generation US Hop Grower and Hop Growers of America President.
The hop market has historically been quite cyclical, with relatively recent dramatic peaks and valleys in acreage. Dramatic growth in hop usage by brewers in recent years, particularly in the craft sector, has driven the recent expansion and encouraged growers in regions outside of the PNW to try their hand with the crop.
Washington’s Yakima Valley leads US production with 37,475 acres, representing over 70% of the country’s acreage. Oregon and Idaho follow with 7,669 and 5,971 acres respectively. Michigan, the leader outside of the PNW, has an estimated 650 acres in production with more under development. The total for non-PNW producing states increased in acreage by 64% this year, with 26 states reported 2,098 acres in production, collectively.
Outside of the US, Germany – currently the second largest hop growing country worldwide – reported in April that 45,503 acres were expected to produce hops this year. This is a 10% increase from 2015, with 4,205 new acres.