[14 May/Farmers Weekly]

New Zealand’s hop growers were expanding to cater for craft beer demand. Growers were making large investments in new plantings and facilities according to NZ Hops. NZ Hops Chief Executive, Doug Donelan, said wind and heat dominated the growing season before harvesting started in mid-February. It meant growers produced a much lighter crop than expected. Total volume fell 38,000 kg on the year before. NZ hops had 18 growers two years ago, and now it has 23. Hops only grow around Motueka. The rise of craft beer had brought more contracts into the market and big breweries paid for a wide range of hops. Mr Donelan added they were now growing speciality varieties which weren’t as high yielding, but were higher value. He noted demand for NZ speciality hops continued, however market signals were slowing in mature craft beer markets.