2016 Quality Update

2016 Quality Update

In the US hop industry there has never been such a demand for volume and quality placed on growers and dealers. We are all learning how to balance this new normal together. Traditionally, hops have been a commodity, largely being sold as generic alpha. Pricing has been variable, and many farms were more concerned with survival than sustainability. Open air facilities housed decades-old pickers and kilns designed for quickness, not necessarily quality. The times, however, have now changed.

The rising quality requirements have been coupled with an incredible demand for volume. Hop acreage has grown at double digits, and new contracts have been at a level that is providing economic sustainability for growers. This growth has enabled growers to purchase land and trellis while also reinvesting in picking infrastructure. Over the last several years, the balance of quality and supply has not always been perfect; there is often a lag between capital to invest in the required infrastructure, while simultaneously covering growing costs. At times, picking windows have been stretched to meet supply demands, which has been detrimental to quality. SBG has, and always will, put quality first. We work very closely with growers to ensure they have capacity to pick our brands at peak maturity, but there are times when farms simply cannot keep up, and this, presents some challenges. 

The 2017 crop year will likely be the first year since 2009 that the hop industry has seen growth in aroma acreage below double digits. Growers will not have to juggle the seemingly never-ending issue of increasing acreage while concurrently meeting quality requirements. This will be an opportunity for growers to focus solely on producing the highest quality, most consistent product possible. 

SBG, in partnership with YCH, is further supporting growers by improving an already comprehensive quality assurance program to meet the goal of only delivering the highest level quality product to brewers. Starting this year, any hops that do not meet minimum quality standards will not be accepted at YCH, and will not be offered for sale under the associated brand. This standard will increase brewer confidence that any SBG managed brand shipped with a YCH label, will arrive with the highest consistency of quality and freshness.

All quality assurance activities are monitored through a comprehensive collaboration between growers, SBG, and YCH. SBG employs a summer intern crew and full time quality management team through our FOOTPRINTS™ brand management program to monitor varietal purity and harvest quality. YCH utilizes brewer feedback, harvest receiving quality checks, and GreenChief® staff. Growers work with both SBG and YCH to assure that all quality parameters are met.

It is our sincere hope that brewers and growers profit in a long term, truly beneficial relationship. We believe that starts with consistency and transparency, and ends with the highest possible quality and true sustainability.

Posted April 03, 2017