Winter is firmly in place and the fields in the Pacific Northwest are dormant, but in the offices, labs, and greenhouses the discussion is already turning to the 2023 crop and harvest.
Peter Mahony the Vice President, Supply Chain/Purchasing at John I. Haas, Inc. spoke with ProBrewer contributor John Holl on what is on the horizon for this year.
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John Holl: First up, what are your key takeaways from 2022?
Peter Mahony: The USDA just put out the production for the year and it was in in line with our views. We were down. The total production for 2022, and I’m speaking to just to the Northwest, the total acreage came down by 2% percent versus the 2021 crop.
Aromas were flat. High alphas went down 10% in terms of acreage.
We had a good growing season, but most for most growers it was the late spring that was cool and wet that got it off to a slow start and that carried into a below average crop.
The quality was good, however, we had no issues with smoke taint and that’s really nice.
John Holl: So as we head into a new year, what is top of mind for you these days?
Peter Mahony: We need to reduce the aroma acres by a significant amount in terms of acreage. Clearly we have a structural over supply issue in the U.S. The COVID-19 hangover has caught up with us and craft is slowing. Alternative beverages are in the mix.
The main thing is that we didn’t tap on the breaks on building supply over the last three years so we have a significant oversupply issues on our hands.
Citra, Mosasic, Idaho 7, El Dorado, they all need to come down by 20% in our view. We’re seeing shipments slow, new sales are trickling in, but brewers are hesitant in the current market. With high inflation we’re not seeing a lot of forward contracting.
All of the signals are that we’ll be sitting on a significant supply of 2022 crops in 2023. So we’re looking at a two year correction, a two year period to reset.
John Holl: How’s the 2023 crop looking?
Peter Mahony: The first thing is the focus is on the winter. We’re looking at a forecast that calls for an unpresented third La Nina in three years and that brings a cooler ocean current and good snow packs. We’ve already had some snow piling up in the Cascade Mountains and the outlook because of that looks positive in terms of water for irrigating next year’s crop.
John Holl: Where is brewer interest with varietals these days?
Peter Mahony: I would say that the major players, the top 10 varietires, the proprietary aroma hops are still the focus. So many big brands are built around those top varieties, so it’s not changing.
There might be some uptick, but not much, on some old standbys like Centennial, Cascade, and Chinook.
John Holl: Are there any experiential or new-to-market hops that you are particularly excited about?
Peter Mahony: I do know that we have a good half dozen that we put in the elite category that are showing the most interest and would potentially be the next commercial release.
These include. HBC 1019 AND HBC 586. Those two are top for our program and last year we sent out a lot of samples and there is definitely brewer interest for them.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.