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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.

‘Good bad’ move by A-B InBev

As many of you will have gathered, I have an affection for nonsense marketing terms. I have regaled you with some favourites, but there were two I failed to mention. They include the new ‘cold hot’ soft drinks category (ice tea and iced coffee, obviously…) and ‘premium standard’ lager.

The latter, which refers to premium brands at standard ABVs, came up again this week. Budweiser is rolling out on draught, but the draught version will be 4.3% ABV instead of a premium 5% ABV.

Owner Anheuser-Busch InBev (A-B InBev) has done well out of the standard premium sector. It should have done too, as it pretty much invented it with Beck’s Vier in 2006 and Stella Artois 4% in 2008.

With Budweiser draught, the brewer is targeting young-ish blokes going out to watch sport and drink beer — hence the need for a sensible alcohol level.

Brands like Foster’s and Carling already jostle for space in this market, but are ‘standard’ brands, lacking the image, and often higher price, of beers like Beck’s Vier and Stella Artois 4%. Brands A-B InBev already owns.

The Budweiser move seems to make sense for the Budweiser brand then, but little for the brewer. Surely it can only grow draught Bud at the expense of its other brands in the sector?

Sounds like something marketers would call a ‘good bad’ move.

6 Jul. 2011



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