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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.

Dry weather leaves brewers with malting barley supply crisis

A dry spring in much of Europe has sent malting barley prices shooting upwards – adding to the woes of brewers already under pressure from weak beer demand, according to analysts.

In the UK, one of the four leading European producers along with France, Germany and Denmark, spring barley prices for the coming 2011 harvest have risen from ?183 a metric tonne last November to ?235 in May.

Brewers spark recent jump

The dry start to the year, in the UK and France especially, has triggered this price hike, creating major uncertainty in the market. Stuart Shand, sales director at agriculture merchants Gleadell, said the market has “exploded” as one or two brewers have finally stepped in realising that “drought conditions were in fact real and ongoing”.

In recent times brewers have been holding off purchases because declining beer demand has made it difficult to predict future needs, HGCA analyst Jack Watts told this publication.

Such last minute buying practices could force some brewers to pay inflated prices in the current uncertain climate. Watts added that it is not just a question of quantity and price - the dry conditions may have compromised quality as well. Most buyers are therefore holding back if they can.

“UK maltsters have not entered the market as they know that there is little point as sellers have all but disappeared due to the concerns over expected yield,” said Shand.

Harvest should ease uncertainty

Watts added that the “situation is quite critical in the UK and Europe” and is likely to improve only when the combines begin to roll in July and the likely size of the 2011 harvest becomes clearer.

In the meantime the uncertainty and lack of trade in the market makes it difficult to reliably say where prices stand.

“Prices are now at record highs for the 2011 crop, although the price at any point in time is difficult to say with very few trades being done anywhere in the EU,” said Shand. “Actually getting a price that reflects this nominal market is not easy as buyers are rare and sellers even rarer. This makes for a market that will remain volatile until harvest.”

1 Jun. 2011

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