A pair of raw ingredients suppliers backed by the same private equity fund has joined forces in an effort to offer craft breweries easier access to hops and malt.
Michigan’s Hop Head Farms and Milwaukee’s Proximity Malt, which are both a part of Ceres Partners’ “Food & Agriculture Opportunity Fund,” today announced a joint marketing agreement aimed at better serving the craft brewing industry’s ever-growing long tail of more than 6,300 companies.
Specific financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but the tie-up will allow the two suppliers to share distribution and sales resources, executives from both companies told Brewbound.
“Early on, we recognized some synergies between how we approach the market and how we approach the craft segment,” said David Sipes, executive vice president of Hop Head Farms. “With this agreement, we are jointly getting out to our customers and trying to be, as much as we can, a one-stop shop for malt and hops.”
Sipes, who spent 17 years with Boston Beer before joining Hop Head Farms in 2016, told Brewbound that the two companies have a “better understanding” of the needs of smaller brewers, which are often overlooked by larger ingredient suppliers and brokers.
“It is fair to say that the larger merchants and dealers within the space enjoy the efficiencies of having larger customers,” he said. “We are finding that there are opportunities throughout the country and that many customers aren’t getting the attention we feel they deserve.”
Both Hop Head Farms and Proximity Malt are relative newcomers to the beer space.
Hop Head Farms, which bills itself as a “grower, processor and marketer of high-quality aroma and traditional hop varieties,” was established in 2011 and currently has more than 500 acres of hops in production and development in the Midwest.
In addition to owning its own acreage, and working directly with U.S. hop growers, the company also imports a variety of hops from Germany, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic, Sipes said.
“We take a farm-direct approach,” he said. “We work directly with growers to help steer quality throughout the decision-making process.”
Proximity Malt, meanwhile, was founded by former Malteurop North America employees in early 2015 and currently operates malthouses in Colorado and Delaware.
Though Proximity does not own any of its own acreage, according to Amy Germershausen, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing, it works with growers located within 100 miles of its malting facilities in an effort to “build a more efficient supply chain.”
“The Proximity name is not just about geography, it is also about a closeness to the customer,” she said. “There are a lot of breweries out there that aren’t getting a lot of attention. By having this marketing agreement, we are able to expand our footprint to new companies and customers who are looking for something new, different and unique.”
Together, the two companies will share about seven sales personnel who will now be tasked with selling both malt and hops. The two companies also plan to introduce joint marketing and advertising campaigns in the coming months, the executives said.
A press release with additional details is below.
Milwaukee, WI, and Berrien Springs, MI – April 25, 2018– Proximity Malt and Hop Head Farms are happy to announce a joint marketing agreement between the two companies. Both Proximity Malt and Hop Head Farms serve the craft brewing community with a similar commitment to, quality, sustainability and customer service which makes this partnership a natural fit.
“We are creating a partnership that will provide craft brewers with alternatives to the current distribution system, one that focuses on understanding our customers and connecting them to high quality ingredients through a new, more direct supply chain.”, said Dale West, CEO of PXM.
“With this approach, we are able to reach more of the market. With decades of combined experience and expertise in the malting, hops and craft brewing industries, our employees will be able to offer brewers superior service in terms of technical brewing and recipe development. In addition, they will receive unparalleled customer service and simplified order management”, said Perry Vieth , CEO Hop Head Farms
We are excited to collaborate and offer our customers access to both malt and hops through one point of contact, saving busy craft brewers valuable time and shipping costs. Look for our quality ingredients at either proximitymalt.com or hopheadfarms.com starting MAY 1, 2018.