High quality hops are the lifeblood of the Craft Beer industry. Without a ready supply, our customers will be in serious trouble. This article from the Wall Street Journal raises a serious issue for the future of the industry as we all continue to drink more and more high quality Craft Beer.
The shortages are contributing to the sudden slowdown in craft beer sales. During the first half of the year, independent brewers’ volumes grew about 8%, ending six years of double-digit growth, according to the Brewers Association, which represents the industry.
We are always looking out for our good customers in the Craft Beer industry – we like to keep on top of issues that affect them so we can be a more responsive supplier. This problem is something that thankfully isn’t hurting out Oregon brewers as much as it is nationally. One of the reasons Oregon Craft beer is booming is that we have a great culture that supports and appreciates Craft, we have smart people that want to work in the industry, and we have great supplies of clean water and local, fresh hops.
Crosby Hop Farm here in Woodburn, OR has a great selection of premium hops available. The photo above shows some of their bounty from the harvest going on right now.
Even though farmers are getting the message and planting more acres, they just can’t keep up!
The problem isn’t lack of hops production. Farmland devoted to the crop has increased 65% during the past five years to about 51,000 acres from 31,000 acres.
Even though 70% of this new planting is the higher demand hops, such as Citra, according to the Wall Street Journal article. Even so, the brewing industry is growing even faster. It’s hard to believe that the demand for Craft Beer isn’t the limiting factor in this industry’s amazing growth – it could a supply constraint.
Unfortunately label companies like ours can’t do much to help increase the hop supply, but we can help your product stand out on the shelf. As the market gets more competitive and resources are constrained, quality and brand recognition will matter more than ever. Having a great product with premium packaging will help your brewery survive in a difficult business climate.
Another option – diversify! With the rise of digital label printing, it is now possible to create many new small batch SKU’s to diversify your product line. We see more and more special ingredients, different formulas, and barrel aged sour beers entering the market. Most of these products are less dependent on the premium hops as compared to a strong, 100 IBU IPA.
Producing these small batch fruit beers, coffee-infused Stouts, and other niche products are affordable now because shorter runs of labels are less expensive than ever.
- Make your product as good as it can be – quality matters
- Invest in distinctive packaging and branding
- Diversify with small run niche products
With these three things in mind, you can build a successful beer business, even in a tight hop market.
Want more help building your business? Call us today. We are not expert brewers, but we do have some insight to share about the Business of Craft Brewing.