There has been another eruption of outrage in the craft beer industry today. AB InBev owned South African hops will not be available to non-AB owned breweries in 2017. Following a viral memo from an independent distributor today, the craft beer industry is none to happy.
The memo claimed that due to, “believing this will afford them a competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive marketplace,” AB InBev refuses to sell surplus hops to craft breweries outside of their portfolio.
However, this statement from AB claims a lower harvest yield this year and a goal to grow and sell more South African hops in 2018.
South Africa is not a traditional hop growing region. SAB’s R&D efforts made it possible to grow hops in South Africa but it is still less than 1% of the world hop acreage and production. This year, South Africa suffered from low yields. Previously, SAB has sold a small surplus of locally-grown hops to the market. Unfortunately this year we do not have enough to do so given the poor yield. More than 90 percent of our South African-grown hops will be used in local brands Castle Lager and Castle Lite, beers we’ve committed to brewing with locally-grown ingredients. In support of the local industry, we additionally sell hops to South African craft breweries. This means that less than five percent can be allocated to other Anheuser-Busch InBev breweries outside of South Africa.
Knowing the high demand for South African hops locally and abroad, we are working to expand local hop acreage. Depending on the 2018 crop outcome, we may once again be able to sell more hops to breweries outside of South Africa. –Willy Buholzer, Global Hops Procurement Director, Anheuser-Busch InBev
Let’s all hope one way or the other we get more access to those delicious South African hops next year.