It’s fun to see so much excitement and passion around new hop varieties! 47Hops sells open source proprietary varieties, like Pekko™ and Azacca® for example, but we haven’t created any ourselves yet. A new variety, in and of itself, is a great thing. With all the interest in and passion for hop aroma, we live in an amazing time to be involved in the hop industry. It seems though that we’re at a point where a selection of amazing varieties is not what the industry is lacking.
Recently, a few of the guys who own the proprietary varieties that are constantly in short supply recently announced they’re coming out with NEW varieties! That’s great news, isn’t it!?! … wait … WTF?!! … Hang on a minute. How do they have the acreage and resources to produce something that nobody knows if anybody wants when they can’t even manage to grow the stuff everybody is screaming for? Does anybody else here see a bit of irony in this situation?
One of the reasons prices are so high for some popular proprietary varieties is because the company that owns and controls them supposedly just can’t keep up with demand … at least that has been the story the past few years. They keep tight control over the varieties from production to sales in the interest of keeping “quality” high. I’m sure you’ve heard the claims. That’s a well-designed story with a good plausible deniability … because, after all, it’s agriculture we are talking about. Somehow, magically, it is now possible to introduce new varieties. Wait a minute … Doesn’t that take land, resources and all the other things those guys claimed they didn’t have a minute ago for the varieties brewers want? This is where things start to get a little fishy IMHO.
When a company is unable to supply customers with popular products already in their portfolio, they’ve got a problem. The solution to that problem, if a company values its customers, is not offering a wider variety of products. Business 101. Kudos to the German hop industry for figuring this out. They reportedly had developed Callista and Ariana a couple years ago but sat on them to give Mandarina Bavaria, Hull Melon and Hallertau Blanc time to develop in the market and on farms around Germany. Smart play!
Pro Tip: A hop company claiming it is unable to satisfy demand for proprietary varieties only it controls should not continue to introduce new proprietary varieties to the market unless the resulting shortage is the ultimate goal.
Maybe, in a very primal way, they think that if they have a bigger list of varieties than their competitors, it makes them better … Or maybe they’re overcompensating for something else? When a variety is short, prices skyrocket. That’s just Hops 101. You know the varieties that have been consistently short for a while now. What if those varieties are being purposely shorted to drive up prices? What if a few people are manipulating the hop market and making millions at the expense of craft brewers? The principle of Occam’s razor says that the simplest and most obvious explanation for something also tends to be the most accurate. Or, in simpler terms: If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. Quack!