In the search for their unique selling point, a better mousetrap if you will, hop growers and merchants all think they’re a little bit smarter and do things a little bit better than their competitors. That’s probably just the nature of business.
The majority of the people in the boat are surviving and that’s all they really want to do. That becomes difficult when nobody will act together because they quite literally hate one another.
Right now, for example, there’s enough hop acreage to cover the increased needs of brewers for 2017. Nevertheless, I hear reasoning like, “Why should I idle acreage if he’s going to plant?” and “My contracts are with better brewers than that other guy.” And “Our expansion is already in motion”.
In America today, everybody thinks they are special. If everybody is special, then by the meaning of the word, nobody is really special. The hop industry, high on the attention of the past few years, thinks it cannot repeat the mistakes of the past. If they continue to plant hops that are not necessary, we can, and most likely will, see Cascades for $2.00 per pound again. Thankfully, we are not at that point today. Everything is possible.
Hop growers and merchants never sing kumbaya together around campfires … ever. Sure, there are friendships in the industry. There are alliances. There are silos of groups that have banded together. They think they have built a better mousetrap with their collective intelligence. That’s an illusion. Even within those groups, everybody is only out for him or herself.
It would be great for everybody in the industry to remember that they are the mice and they are all at the mercy of the market. They are not the mousetrap builders no matter how much they convince themselves otherwise.