By Bart Watson - Economist
February 24, 2020
Early in 2020, Brewers Association (BA) Supply Chain Specialist Chris Swersey and I attended the annual Hop Growers of America Convention. This year’s theme was “The Hop Pendulum,” with a logo showing a hop cone beginning to swing back in a new direction. As anyone who has followed the hop market for some time knows, it is a fitting theme. The hop market has distinct cycles driven by supply and demand, and the market rarely looks anything like it did five years ago. That said, it occurred to me that many of today’s breweries probably don’t know much about this pendulum, hop market cycles, or even what the market looked like five years ago. Why? The median BA member has only been open a bit over four years, and so has only seen a partial cycle, if that.
So with that in mind, I thought it might be helpful to provide a history of the hops world, or at least a short, recent history of the American hops market portion of the hops world.