[22 May/ Radio NZ Country]

The New Zealand Hop Co-operative says that its 18 growers, all of whom are in the Nelson region, has seen production fall around 10% to 750 tonnes.  CEO, Doug Donelan, said the crop had suffered as the the weather had not been right since spring started wet, and was compounded by a cool summer which saw yields from some varieties very hard hit.  The co-operative is seeking to grow hop production by around 30% and the poor season has made it hard to meet growing demand. New acreage of higher demand varieties is currently being planned by the industry.  Strong growth of the domestic craft beer sector has seen exports fall from around 90% of production to between 75 and 80%. Key craft beer markets are the US, UK and Europe although growth is also being seen in Asia.