Moxee, WA – As food traceability is increasingly important to the American public, more and more consumers and producers are interested in the origins of their ingredients. While the US Hop Industry has utilized grower identification numbers for half a century in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, now demand for this has emerged in new hop growing regions.
Grower numbers have been assigned for over 50 years in the Pacific Northwest, home to 98% of the US Hop Crop. As a standard practice, each bale is labeled not only with the grower number, but also the year, lot # (a specific field it came from), and the variety.
“Grower numbers are an important tool used in the hop selection process, as important as variety and lot numbers which are stenciled on every bale,” said Firestone Walker Brewmaster Matt Brynildson. “This standard has been a part of the hop industry in the North West for decades, and has helped guide brewers, not only for reasons of raw material traceability, but also for reasons of consistency and familiarity with individual farms. Grower numbers are one of a number of data points that we log with every brewer’s cut that we assess and have helped us to recognize the farms and the growing regions that produce the best hop for our beers. As commercial hop growing moves out of the North West and across the country, having a standardized system in place that connects the bale to the growers in these new regions is obviously important.”
As a service to the hop industry and in response to requests from growers across the country, Hop Growers of America is assigning grower numbers to any commercial hop grower meeting some minimal requirements. This is typically a service provided by the State Agency Hop Commissions of Washington, Idaho, and Oregon, where assessments on production for each grower is mandated by law. However, Hop Growers of America is now providing grower numbers to hop growers outside of these states at no cost, and independent of membership to the organization.
“Brewers Association is a strong and enthusiastic supporter of expanding the grower number program nationally,” said Chris Swersey, Supply Chain Specialist & Competition Manager – Great American Beer Festival, World Beer Cup. “The grower number serves a crucial link between the grower and brewer end user. Brewers understand more about their supply chain than ever before, and place great value on the terroir that affects the aromas and flavors of their chosen hop stocks. In addition, brewers and the entire hop industry are subject to increasing food safety regulation, especially with respect to traceability. Adding grower numbers outside the Pacific Northwest will improve the communication in an already robust supply chain, between thousands of brewers and hundreds of U.S. hop farms.”
About Hop Growers of America:
Hop Growers of America (HGA) promotes American grown hops to brewers and merchants of hops both domestically and internationally. HGA facilitates conversations between growers, merchants, and brewers, providing statistical reports to the industry and education on the quality, variety, and tradition of U.S. grown hops.