Prior to Brau Beviale each year, the Economic Commission of the International Hop Growers Convention meets in Nuremberg to provide preliminary updates on global hop production. Having the 2016 harvest data collection complete by early November each year is an ambitious goal and the data must be considered an estimate due to the varying degree of reliability of each country’s reporting mechanisms. But the report does give us some valuable trend data regarding global hop acreage and production.
Overall, the IHGC estimates that 107,203 metric tons (approximately 236,342,159 pounds) of hops were produced in 2016 on 54,210 hectares of planted acreage. While neither of these measures are record highs, they represent significant increases over the 2015 crop. Germany increased acreage about 4%, but production was up 50% due mostly to a good crop relative to the disastrous 2015 crop. The USA increased acreage 17%, but production was up only 10%. The rest of Europe increased acreage slightly, but production was up significantly due again, to the generally poor crop in 2015. China appears to continue its trend of declining acreage and production.
Hop acreage was up slightly in Australia, but production was down due primarily to poor weather conditions. New Zealand had 6-7% increases in both acreage and production in 2016. Acreage in the United Kingdom remained about the same and production was up about 7%.
Although YCH's expectations for a large US crop faded as the harvest season progressed, we still handled the overall volume we expected, just with a slightly different varietal mix than we initially anticipated.
Global alpha production was up significantly from 2015. For the first time since 2009, more than 10,000 metric tons of alpha was produced. With the USA crop experiencing a major shift to aroma varieties to meet global craft beer demand, it is becoming more challenging to analyze the effect that hop dosage has on global alpha demand. It is expected that 2016 will represent the third year in a row that global beer production will decline slightly, but with increased hop dosage in craft beers, supply appears to be in balance with demand.
There are some varieties that remain in short supply. It is anticipated that acreage will increase again for 2017, but will be limited to high demand varieties. It remains to be seen if the planting will be to replace existing acreage or will come from newly trellised land.