Hops Could Cost a Pretty Penny

We're just a couple more weeks away from hop harvest season in our area, and growers in our area say they could be asking for more money this year for their product.

That expectation stems from the rise in the number of craft brewers around the country.

Craft brewers, though small compared to brewers like Budweiser, require more unique hop extracts and flavors for their ales.

That means more hop varieties from growers like Patrick Smith.

"Expanding a hop farm is not as easy as expanding a brewery and changing our varieties," said Smith, "These are multi-year decisions that are having to be made; what varieties to plant, how much acreage to grow and things like that."

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a pound of hops sold for about $2 a decade ago, last year, hops sold for over $3.50 a pound.

To some, that rise in costs may translate into a "shortage," however, growers say it's more of an imbalance of variety.

Smith says it's too early to tell exactly how large his crop will be, which will ultimately determine the price he sets for his clients.

"The demand for hops is very elastic," saiod Smith, "Products with an elastic demand have extreme price volatility both in shortage and surplus scenarios."

Growers in our area say they won't begin harvesting hops until the last weekend of August.

Almost 80% of the nation's hops are grown in the Yakima Valley--that equates to almost a quarter of the world's hops.

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