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4-2017

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.

China. Difficulties of Chinese craft brewers

China does not suffer from lack of small breweries. In total, according to the industry experts there are more than 2000 breweries of various scales. Twenty years of merges and takeovers of big companies did not influence the operation of small entrepreneurs; many of them can produce craft beer.

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The number increase of small brewers is promoted by China’s leadership on the market of minibreweries manufacturing rather affordable equipment of different quality, capacity, and complement.

Yet, amid the beer market downturn, craft brewers will have to face a new challenge from the industry giants. The point is, the brewing companies like AB InBev and Tsingtao, searching a way to compensate the losses from the sales decline of the tradition bottle beer, decided to fit into the craft niche, ousting the already existing players.

While in the USA according to the definition of the American Brewers’ Association, on being overtaken by a big brewing company, a small brewery loses its craft status, there is no such rule in Chine. Besides, the big players’ desire to enter the craft niche results in pseudo-craft beer.

In order to promote their crafty brands, big companies hire bloggers, sponsor various events of craft brewers and festivals, they are even willing to buy extra shelf space with craft beer.

In this brewery sector, much depends on consumers. Many Chinese think that only import beer can be qualitative. By no means all of them know what craft beer is and find nothing negative in possible monopolization of the industry by big national breweries.

However, can a beer produced in industrial volumes be considered craft? In order to protect their own and consumers’ rights, brewers create their unions such as China Craft Beer Association that help to raise the population’s awareness on the real craft beer.

9 Jun. 2016

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