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Hops Insider: Bracing for the Next Market Correction

Tough times are ahead for hop merchants and farmers coping with surplus stocks and stalling demand. After enjoying wider selection and lower prices in the short term, are brewers ready for what comes next?

Stan Hieronymus Feb 19, 2024 - 11 min read

Hops Insider: Bracing for the Next Market Correction Primary Image

Freshly harvested hops in the picker at Perrault Farms in Toppenish, Washington. Photo: Joe Stange.

The same January day that Willamette Valley Hops in Oregon filed for bankruptcy protection, attendees at the American Hop Convention in Texas heard John I. Haas CEO Tom Davis tell them, “We think 10,000 acres of aromas have to come out with ’24. We took out 9,000 acres last year, and it didn’t dent surplus, and that’s what is the painful part for all of us here. We have grown an industry very large, but it was more than it needed to be.”

Clearly, there have been better times to be a hop merchant or hop farmer. The interest on hop inventory carried over from previous years is costing merchants $75 million annually. Meanwhile, removing 10,000 acres from production would cost farmers about $100 million in sales in 2024.

What does this mean for brewers?

“I don’t think there is one answer,” says Brewers Association chief economist Bart Watson. Short term, there will be “plenty of what they want.” Long term, they better be ready for the other shoe to drop.

“They need to enjoy the moment and prepare for the future,” he says.

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