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Global hop market

A local alternative to mass beer suggested by independent brewers has been successful and is now altering the global market. Beer is becoming more diversified, so transnational companies have to accept the new game rules and to switch focus to young and fast growing markets. All these processes increased the demand for aroma and bitter hop as well as their acreage expansion on two continents. However now there appeared a downward trend of alcohol consumption in the world, so even special sorts can soon turn to be sufficient. In this connection the dynamic American hop market is already facing some problems. EU hop producers have become more cautious, they are not racing to exceed the demand and look forward with more confidence, judging by the contract terms. 

Hop Market in Russia

Germany still dominates the Russian market, yet over the recent two years one has been able observe a continuous success of Czech hop suppliers. Their expansion and growing popularity of hops from the United States became the drivers of supplies growth in 2016 despite the preceding modest harvest crop in the EU, as well as the factor of relative stability in 2017. In this connection, in 2017, the ratio of the varieties continued to shift towards the aroma ones, and the supplies of Magnum hop and other alpha varieties were reduced. However, the import of bitter hop pellets is partially replaced by extracts, especially from the major beer manufacturers. Total volumes of alpha acid supplies, according to our estimation, decreased by approximately 5% and returned to the level of 2015. Barth Haas Group continues dominating the hop products market; HVG also increased its weight. At the same time, Morris Hanbury significantly reduced the supplies in 2017.

AB InBev’s New 0%-Alcohol Beer

The 2011 Anheuser Busch-InBev shareholders meeting on Tuesday was never going to generate news. “We’ll have a press conference but you won’t learn anything,” a spokeswoman said.

First-quarter results are due to be presented on May 4, so the company didn’t want to jump the gun, although the so-called “quiet period” before earnings is a cultural choice, not the law.

What the company did want to talk about was the new alcohol-free drink rolled out by home unit InBev Belgium, the Hoegaarden 0.0. The Real Time Brussels team agreed to taste-test a six-pack, as it did for the Jupiler Force.

The H0, of course, is named after the classic wheat Hoegaarden that says Belgian summer like a day at the beach in Ostende or reading a book in a Brussels park.

Under CEO Carlos Brito, AB Inbev invests considerably in flashy marketing. And the Hoegaarden 0.0 is stylish, with design centered around a Gothic rendition of “0.0”, that looks like two ghost eyes, printed on a light yellow can with white wheat germs.

The verdict on taste was mixed. Your correspondent found the drink akin to a watered-down lemon Fanta. OK — refreshing even — if you know what you’re getting.

“It’s lovely, like a Hoegaarden shandy,” said a female colleague, referring to a beer and soft drink cocktail.

Male colleagues’s reviews were more bitter. “Like sweet dish soap,” said one.

In the end, Mr. Brito said in brief remarks at the press conference, the point of a big beer company is to offer brands for all tastes, or, as he put it, “you want a portfolio [of drinks] that allows consumers to stay within your franchise.”

Anheuser hopes its range of alcohol-free drinks will help its campaign for responsible drinking, and balance out sluggish beer sales in Europe. “Some beverages, like water, and soft drinks,” are doing better than beer, Mr. Brito said.

27 Apr. 2011

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