Thursday July 18, 2024

Germany takes top hops spot back from US after 9 years

Published : 19 Jun 2024, 01:24

  By Christof Rührmair, dpa
Hops being delivered on a conveyor belt at a farm Photo: Felix Kästle/dpa.

Germany is once again the world's top hops producer - snatching the title from the United States after nine years, the German Hops Growers Association reported on Tuesday.

The change came as a result of a decline in the area devoted to production of the crop in different countries. The German area under hops cultivation declined by 340 hectares to 20,300 hectares, whereas in the US, the fall was by 4,500 hectares to 17,850 hectares.

Large stocks of hops have led to falling prices, worrying German producers. Production goes almost exclusively to the brewing sector, and beer sales are in global decline.

But there are other reasons that have put German hops producers at an advantage compared to their US competitors, said Erich Lehmair from the hop growers' association.

In the US there are more cancellable contracts than in Germany, which means that farmers can more quickly make a decision not to produce hops.

Agriculture is also structured differently in the US compared to Germany, with much larger farms seen across the Atlantic. Larger farms have to change direction more quickly than the typically family-run smaller companies in Germany - partly due to pressure from the banks - if the prospects are poor.

German family farms often have a longer tradition and are more vested in their fields, so they do not give up so easily on their usual crops, Lehmair said.

The latest shifts in the market make the Hallertau region of Bavaria once again the largest hop-growing region in the world.

Last year, figures from the world's largest hop trader BarthHaas from Nuremberg had put the Hallertau in second place behind the US hop-growing region in the state of Washington, albeit as of 2022. Both regions are by far the largest in their respective countries.

Germany and the US account for the lion's share of global hop cultivation. According to the hop growers' association, there are 55,000 hectares of hops grown globally - around 4,800 fewer than a year ago, the German Hop Growers' Association said.

Lehmair said this year's outlook in Germany is positive.

"The hops are doing well at the moment," he says. However, it remains to be seen whether this will continue until the harvest.