Wednesday, 10 July 2013

World hop acreage in 1910 and 2010

I'm still not done with hops. I've unearthed too many numbers, plump and golden, like the first new potatoes of summer, to leave them to rot, uneaten.

The reason I assemble statisitcs from various sources is very simple. Most published statistics cover a limted number of years. You can't really see the big picture. By nailing together different sets of numbers, I can create tables with a much greater scope. Ones that span centuries.

Like the set today. Which span exactly 100 years. And no, I don't have figures for all the intervening years. I'm still on the trail of those. Please let me know if you're aware of a source for world hop production statistics from 1970 to the present. The Statistical Handbook of the BBPA doesn't include them, unlike the Brewers' Almanack.

The table shows us that pretty much everywhere in the world the area dedicated to hops has declined over the last 100 years. Even in the USA and Germany, where the hop industry has industry has been very successful in the last 30 years. In both od those countries, hop acreage only declined 30% or so, compared to a global decline of 44%. It's particularly impressive in Germany's case as it lost its second largest hop-grwong region, Alsace-Lorraine, after WW I. It had been responsible for about 20% of German hop acreage in 1910.

World hop acreage in 1910 and 2010
Country 1910 area (ha) 2010 area (ha) % difference
Germany 27,466 18,386 33.06%
Czech Republic 14,715 5,210 64.59%
Poland (Galicia) 2,293 1,867 18.58%
Slovenia  1,391
UK  13,319 1,070 91.97%
France  2,741 580 78.84%
Spain  508
Romania  245
Austria  522 234 55.17%
Slovakia  229
Belgium  1,940 186 90.41%
Bulgaria  160
Hungary  964 27 97.20%
Portugal  17
European Union  30,110
Ukraine  1,184
Turkey  352
Russia  9,068 420 95.37%
Serbia  39
Belarus  53
Switzerland 18
Croatia  16
Rest of Europe  2,082
EUROPE  75,593 32,192 57.41%
USA 18,428 12,662 31.29%
Argentina  235
Canada  9
AMERICA  12,906
China 5,502
Japan  192
India  45
ASIA  5,739
South-Africa  492
WORLD 94,761 52,156 44.96%
Barth Hop Market Telegram June 2011
Barth Hop Report 1911-1912 

Poland appears to come out on top with just an 18% decline. But that's not really true. Only one of Poland's hop-growing regions, Galicia, is included in the 1910 numbers. Poznan, Lublin and Wolhynien are omitted. Had all the regions been included, the decline would have been considerably larger.

With the borders of Russia and Hungary having changed considerably in the intervening years, it's hard to make much of a useful comparison between the 1910 and 1920 figures. Which leaves two obvious big losers: the UK and Belgium. Both saw a fall of 90%. What you would call pretty catastrophic.

Why, when world beer production has increased, has the area dedicated to hops fallen so much? It's combination of improved agricultural techniques which mean the amount of hops produced per hectare has increased. Then there's the move to high-alpha acid hops. Fewer are required to achieve the same level of bitterness.

Britain's move away from strong, heavily-hopped beers after WW I must have also had an effect. At one time Britain was soaking up a large percentage of world hop production. in 1913, the UK consumed 580,000 zentners (1 zentner = 50 kg) of a total world consumption of 1,734,000 zentners*. I make that just about exactly a third.

* Barth Hop Report 1911-1912.

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