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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.


Pouring New Life Into Light Beer, a $50 Billion Market

At a beer industry summit last month, Ed McBrien, distribution chief for MillerCoors, compared himself to a typewriter salesman in an iPad age.

McBrien was sketching plans to resurrect light beer, a $50 billion market battling to stay relevant as makers of craft beer, wine and spirits increasingly steal customers from Molson Coors Brewing, SABMiller and Anheuser-Busch Inbev.

Light beer is ceding ground as cabernet-loving baby boomers and millennials weaned on exotic cocktails seek more complex flavors in their brews. High unemployment among light beer drinkers has prompted some to drink less or switch to cheaper brews. In a bid to return the froth to light beer, the U.S. joint venture between Molson Coors and SABMiller unveiled new advertising for a key brand, Miller Lite.

If the companies can’t revive the brand, “we’ve got big trouble ahead of us,” said Bump Williams, whose BWC advises more than 100 beer retailers. “Light beer has become a commodity.”

The new Miller Lite ads will revive the brewer’s classic tagline, “It’s Miller Time.” Aimed at men in their 20s and 30s, the campaign will tone down talk of carbs and calories in favor of a “brewed for brotherhood” theme. The brand will spend 50 percent more on media in the summer season.

“Miller Time is all about real friends getting together over a real beer,” MillerCoors Chief Marketing Officer Andy England said. “We’re going to articulate that with a kind of Midwestern grit that can only come from Miller Lite.”

Light beer, an American invention, took hold in 1975, when Miller Brewing Co. became the first to distribute a low-calorie beer nationwide. Four of the five best-selling suds in the U.S. are light beers.

Still, as consumers turn to more exciting alternatives, U.S. beer sales volumes have dropped for three straight years, including a 1.5 percent decline in 2011, according to the Beverage Information Group. Coors Light — the only Top 5 U.S. beer still growing — posted a 1 percent increase last year, the same as in 2010.

The shift has retailers stocking more wine and spirits. Beer lost 2.3 share points of display space in the past five years as spirits and wine gained, according to Nick Lake, senior director of category management for Heineken.

Miller Lite has always sought broad appeal, with early TV ads featuring athletes pitching the brew as “Everything You always Wanted in a Beer. And Less.” New York Yankees baseball legends George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin later argued over whether it was better to say the beer “tastes great” or was “less filling.”

By the mid-2000s, craft beer’s rise made it harder for light beers to make a case for taste. They tried anyway. In 2008, Miller Lite brought back the “Great Taste, Less Filling” idea in its advertising amid falling sales. The following year, Miller Lite advertised itself as “triple hops brewed for great pilsner taste,” as more Americans discovered more heavily hopped craft beers such as New Belgium Brewing Co.’s Fat Tire. Miller followed that up with its “Taste Greatness” campaign. Sales didn’t recover.

The industry also has attempted to juice sales with packaging innovations, such as wide-mouth screw top cans, aluminum bottles and wide-mouthed vented cans. Now Anheuser is turning to higher alcohol content with Bud Light Platinum, featuring 6 percent alcohol, compared with 4.2 percent for regular Bud Light.


3 Apr. 2012



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