Hops! Lots and lots of hops! That’s what America wants right now as it sees a renaissance in its brewing of craft beers which are steaming through the American market. Even with total beer sales across the States down 1%, craft beer sales were up a whopping 18% as more and more Americans develop a palate for craft beers and smaller brewers are seizing on the opportunity to make the most of this. The problem with this is that the marketplace is becoming increasingly competitive as each individual brewer tries to mark out their brand and bring something new and exciting to the table. Enter Britain. British hop farmers got somewhat pounded when the United Kingdom entered the European Common Market as they failed to diversify and were challenged successfully by German hop farmers. Now however, the interest in craft beers stateside has allowed their sector to see something of a resurgence. Due to climate and weather conditions, British hops produce a far mellower, less acidic taste than that of American hops and so many breweries are clamouring to get their hands on it in order to diversify their range of products and give something else to the American consumer and with 2,500 craft ale breweries in the US already, this could mean big business for British growers who saw their 365 tonnes of hops sold in 2009 sky rocket to 600 tonnes in 2013 with that number expected to be exceeded this year. Of course, as Britain only produces around 1.5% of the world’s hops, there is still plenty of room for the market to expand with half of all British crop being bought by the US. If British growers could then expand on this success into other markets they could lay down the foundations for serious growth, with many looking towards Asia and areas with a large western tourist base to market their crops to appeal to those who may make products for Western tastes. Of course, with the global market being dominated by America and Germany, it is going to be a tough nut to crack. With around only 50 hop farms left in the UK, and with much of what they produce going towards traditional English bitter, there is the possibility for major expansion and investment should the American market hold strong but serious work will have to be done in order to open up future markets if the industry wishes to build further.
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