There were fewer imports than before WW I, but the UK didn't produce enough hops in the interwar years to be self-sufficient. Needing to import 30,000 to 40,000 cwts annually. These dried up almost totally after 1940. Making the UK crop a vital resource.
There had been no meeting of the Hops Committee, but Colonel G. B. Winch, the chairman, reported that an informal meeting with members of the Hops Marketing Board had taken place on the 3rd December, on the subject of the determination of the average price of the 1942 crop. The bulk of the figures upon which this calculation was made had already been agreed, but the Board put forward a request that the extra expenses to which growers had been put in carrying out picking in war circumstances should be taken into account. They had also claimed that the cost of cultivation during the remaining 11 months of the season had been materially enhanced, because growers were forced to rely largely on inefficient labour, and consequently had to employ more people than usual to carry out the necessary work. The basis in the agreed schedule for ascertaining increases or decreases in the cost of production, which was laid down before the war, did not. provide for any adjustment of labour costs except such as arises from increases or decreases in the statutory rates of wages. The Board had been asked to submit figures to support their contentions under these two headings, and these figures were now under examination by the Society’s accountant. As soon as his report was available the Hops Committee would meet to consider the line to be taken at the forthcoming meeting of the Permanent Joint Hops Committee when the average price for the season had to be fixed."
The Brewing Trade Review, January 1943, pages 6 - 7.
Hops were, as pretty much everything else, getting more expensive. No surprise there. Over the course of the war a cwt. of hops rose from £9 to £21
But there also weren't going top be enough of them:
"The attention of the Council had been drawn at the last meeting to the fact that the 1942 crop was not sufficient to provide a full year’s supply of hops to each brewer, even at the reduction of 20% in pre-war rates per barrel. A large number of brewers had written to the Society stating that the fulfilment of only 80% of their contracts would leave them short of hops, and asking that some of the small balance of the crop which is to be distributed by the Society should be allocated to them. This balance of the crop, however, was only equal to about 3% of the total contracts, and it was obviously impossible to make up every brewer’s shortage in full. The margin of stocks in the hands of any brewer was very narrow when compared with pre-war practice. The figures of each brewer’s stock of hops, his monthly consumption and his standard barrelage level were now under examination by the Society, and taking into account the quantity of hops supplied under his 1942 contract, the date up to which each brewer has enough hops to maintain his present level of output was being worked out. From these figures the average date up to which brewers have Enough hops would be arrived at. Brewers who have not enough hops to last up to that average date would be allocated hops out of the available balance of the crop. It was most unlikely that the average date would work out later than some time in December, 1943, and it might even be earlier than that, basing the figures on the level of output of the last 12 months. If, as seemed possible, there was a reduction in the demand for beer during the coming year this would, of course, ease the position somewhat."
The Brewing Trade Review, January 1943, page 7.
Reducing hop rates seems to have worked. Because more hops were grown than used in every year of the war. There was a small increase in the acreage dedicated to hops. As you can see in this monster table.
|Hops: home production and imports|
|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.|
|1914||33,661||507,258||13.84||4 3 9||83,690||9972||450,231|
|1916||31,352||307,856||9.82||6 14 0||146,150||10,765||263,386|
|1918||15,666||130,491||8.3||18 15 0||259||6,923||503,140|
|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|
|1955 Brewers' Almanack, page 63.|
Aren't numbers fun? I'm surprised by how many hops were exported during the war. I'm guessing most went to Ireland.