Sunday, 19 May 2013

British hop imports in the 20th century

It's one of those special treat days. Where, as a reward for being good, I give you a bug, fat, juicy table. Several tables, in fact

The tables in question have details of the hops grown, imported, exported and used in the UK from 1857 to 1954. So almost 100 years' worth of hoppy fun.

One of the drums I particularly like to bang is about Britain's dependence on foreign hops in the second half of the 19th century. You can see it clearly in the table. Between 1870 and 1900 Britain imported 100,00-200,000 cwts. of hops each year and accounting for probably about a third of the hops used.

I'd expected that. What I hadn't foreseen was how steeply imports fell off after WW I. By 1924 they were at about half the level of  1900. By the 1930's, hop imports had halved again, averaging about 37,000 cwts. a year 1930 to 1938. That's quite a turnaround.

WW II basically brought imports to a halt, and though there was a small boom in 1946, after 1949 the quantities imported were minimal.

This table shows how the use of foreign hops declined:


Percentage of imported hops used
year % of hops used in UK year % of hops used in UK year % of hops used in UK year % of hops used in UK
1920 100.34% 1930 15.93% 1940 5.84% 1950 0.12%
1921 54.35% 1931 22.91% 1941 0.01% 1951 0.27%
1922 38.80% 1932 6.71% 1942 1.28% 1952 0.22%
1923 3.46% 1933 19.21% 1943 0.08% 1953 0.47%
1924 24.72% 1934 12.08% 1944 0.00% 1954 1.41%
1925 25.41% 1935 13.62% 1945 0.25%
1926 10.38% 1936 11.80% 1946 13.43%
1927 29.31% 1937 14.54% 1947 3.33%
1928 20.66% 1938 15.80% 1948 1.96%
1929 20.24% 1939 2.95% 1949 0.39%
Sources:
Brewers' Almanack 1955, page 63.
1971 Brewers'Almanack, page 54
1928 Brewers' Almanack, page 119


The reason for the fall in imports can be explained very simply: the gravity drop caused by WW I. The weaker beer produced after the war required fewer hops. As the level of UK production had remained relatively unchanged, for the first time in many decades Britain was almost self-sufficent in hops.

It's interesting that, despite all the upheavals of two world wars, British hop production was relatively stable between 1890 and 1850. As this table demonstrates:


Average annual UK hop production
years cwt.
1890 283,629
1900 347,894
1910 302,675
1920 - 1929 302,241
1930 - 1939 235,930
1946 - 1947 284,797
Sources:
1928 Brewers' Almanack, page 119
Brewers' Almanack 1955, page 63.

The main table also shows the volatility of the price of hops. The price could change by 100% or more from one season to the next. For example, 1928 to 1929, 1932 to 1934 and 1933 to 1934.

Hop exports increased significantly after WW I, but nmuch of this is explained by Irish independence. After 1923 hops shipped to the Republic of Ireland Irish Free State were counetd as exports. In the years 1923 to 1925 this acoounts for most of the hops exported.
 
Hops: home production and imports 1857 - 1954
Year ended 31st Dec. Acreage Estimated Produce Yield per acre Average Price of English Hops per Season, Sept. to Dec. Imports: Less Re-Exports Exports: British Hops Consumption Years ended 30th Sept. following
Cwts. Cwts. £ s. d. Cwts. Cwts. Cwts.
1857 50,974 426,049 8.35 4 2 8 18,711
1860 46,271 99,667 2.15 17 5 0 68,918
1870 60,594 700,000 11.55 3 7 8 127,853 3,365
1880 66,698 440,000 6.60 4 6 0 195,987 7,218
1890 53,961 283,629 5.26 10 9 4 181,698 6,164
1900 51,308 347,894 6.78 5 18 8 198,494 14,999
1910 32,886 302,675 9.20 5 6 6  172,032 8,927
1914 33,661 507,258 13.84 4 3 9 83,690 9972 450,231
1915 34,744 254,101 7.31 6 7 0 199,347 8,288
1916 31,352 307,856 9.82 6 14 0 146,150 10,765 263,386
1917 16,946 225,763 13.32 8 15 0 8,530 12,796
1918 15,666 130,491 8.3 18 15 0 259 6,923 503,140
1919 16,745 187,795 11.21 20 5 0 154,091 2,606
1920 21,002 281,042 13.4 19 10 0 455,799 3,672 454,258
1921 25,133 224,172 8.9 19 10 0 216,571 2,200 398,506
1922 26,452 301,000 11.4 12 0 0 127,539 2,818 328,688
1923 24,893 229,000 9.2 14 10 0 12,111 22,051 350,428
1924 25,897 444,000 17.1 10 5 0 89,632 44,316 362,554
1925 26,256 355,000 13.5 10 15 0 90,305 44,541 355,376
1926 25,599 332,000 13 11 5 0 35,040 78,574 337,721
1927 23,004 255,000 11.1 12 10 0 96,917 54,630 330,662
1928 23,805 242,100 10.2 11 16 0 66,183 17,651 320,315
1929 23,986 359,100 15 5 0 0 62,208 13,192 307,289
1930 19,997 253,000 12.6 4 15 0 44,199 22,302 277,406
1931 19,628 169,000 8.7 7 5 0 50,303 22,388 219,587
1932 16,531 188,000 11.4 9 15 0 14,952 19,264 222,868
1933 16,895 210,000 12.8 16 10 0 44,829 20,298 233,419
1934 18,037 259,000 14.4 9 0 0 30,046 13,382 248,744
1935 18,251 248,300 13.6 9 0 0 35,186 16,223 258,300
1936 18,317 252,000 13.7 9 0 0 31,953 19,987 270,692
1937 18,093 235,000 13 9 0 0 40,406 16,130 277,846
1938 18,460 257,000 13.9 9 0 0 45,287 12,580 286,716
1939 18,812 288,000 15.3 9 10 0 7,840 16,050 265,512
1940 18,592 270,500 14.5 12 0 0 14,675 26,830 251,354
1941 18,158 262,800 14.5 15 0 0 31 17,209 223,007
1942 18,420 261,900 14.2 17 10 0 2,963 30,673 231,689
1943 19,131 285,200 14.9 18 0 0 198 24,941 243,900
1944 19,603 253,900 13 20 0 0 -- 26,525 244,822
1945 19,957 282,900 14.1 21 0 0 574 32,337 226,197
1946 21,163 257,451 13.4 22 10 0 29,243 35,056 217,759
1947 22,142 289,908 13.2 23 10 0 7,716 31,661 231,470
1948 22,787 273,584 12 25 15 0 4,561 29,135 233,168
1949 22,196 250,406 11.3 26 10 0 900 42,301 232,979
1950 22,198 368,313 16.6 21 0 0 269 84,027 229,106
1951 22,460 321,824 14.3 26 0 0 626 107,738 228,512
1952 22,279 282,349 12.7 28 3 0 502 76,620 225,569
1953 21,932 272,593 12.3 27 10 0 1,015 64,762 216,841
1954 20,760 246,748 11.9 29 0 0 3,075 51,323 217,716
Sources:



Brewers' Almanack 1955, page 63.
1928 Brewers' Almanack, page 119, 1971 Brewers'Almanack, page 54



4 comments:

Ed said...

That's interesting, I didn't realise there were wild price swings even after the Hop Marketing Board was set up.

Martyn Cornell said...

After constant moans from English hop growers, a duty of £4 a hundredweight was imposed on imported hops in 1925,for the first time since 1862, which lasted right through to beyond the Second World War. That obviously had an impact, though really it was the level of the harvest each year in England that actually set demand, obviously ...

Barm said...

Am I missing something with the 1920 figure? 100.34% of the hops used were imported? More than all?

Ron Pattinson said...

Barm,

the figures are never going to add up exactly because hops might not be used for 2 or 3 years.

The hop usage figures are for the year after the production and importation ones, I assume in an attempt to get them to tally better. But they are never going to be an exact match.