Cheer for brewers as bigger hops harvest looms in Germany

Fri Sep 30, 2016 7:01am EDT
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By Michael Hogan

HAMBURG (Reuters) - Europe's brewers should soon enjoy an improved supply of the key beer ingredient hops, as a much larger harvest is expected in Germany, ending shortages that have plagued the industry in recent months, the head of a top global hops trading house said.

After a weather-hit 2015 crop in Germany, which provides hops for much of Europe, brewers faced such tight supplies that at times they struggled find hops on the open market and were forced to buy inventories from each other.

"Germany's harvest is not over yet but it looks like the crop will be much better than the disastrous crop in 2015 and we are expecting the largest German hop crop since 1993," Stephan Barth, managing partner of the German/U.S. Barth Haas Group told Reuters.

"I think European beer brewers will face much better hop supplies in the coming year."

Germany and the United States are the two dominant hop growers, each accounting for one-third of world production. Germany is a major hop exporter to regions including west and east Europe, Asia and Africa and its crop is of great importance to brewers in these areas, such as Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller.

Last summer's hot and dry weather blighted the European hop harvest while strong demand for increasingly popular craft beers, which need more hops, brought tight supplies and rising hop prices.

But a better mix of rain and sunshine this summer has helped the harvest.

Germany's 2016 hop harvest is likely to rise by around 45 percent to about 41,000 tonnes from about 28,300 tonnes harvested in 2015, Barth said.   Continued...

Visitors reach for the one of the first mugs of beer during the opening day of the 183rd Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, September 17, 2016. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle/File Photo