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Hop shortage turns into a surplus

Published:  23 July, 2009

One of Europe's leading suppliers of hops to the brewing industry says the economic downturn and bigger crops have led to a surplus.

The brewing industry has faced spiralling costs in recent years on the back of a shortage of hops, as well as grain.

Stephan Barth, managing partner at Nuremburg-based hop merchant Joh Barth, said global production figures for 2008 showed a return to more than 110,000 tonnes for the first time in 12 years.

With demand for beer under pressure because of the economic crisis, "we have to assume that hop demand will decline in the long-term", said Barth.

The trend to less flavoursome beers also pointed towards lower hop consumption, Barth said, and he argued against calls in the industry to increase hop acreage in response to previous shortages.

"There is no point in producing hops for a market that no longer requires them in the quantities anticipated," said Barth.