On Monday, fire broke out in a warehouse storing baled hops owned by the S.S. Steiner company of Germany. The entire 40,000 square foot warehouse was engulfed in flames and its cause is not yet known. The impact of the fire, if any, on the global hop market is already being discussed among industry leaders.
According to the AP Story:
The United States produces 24 percent of the world’s hops, which are used to brew beer. The vast majority are grown in the Pacific Northwest, in particular central Washington’s Yakima Valley.
Steiner is one of the larger growers in the valley, said Ann George, administrator of the Washington Hops Commission, an industry marketing group funded by member fees.
“They handle a large volume of the crop, but they have multiple warehouses,” George said. “Depending on what variety or varieties were involved in this incident, if it was a variety that was already in short supply, that could have an impact on price and availability.”
UPDATE: CNN has done a follow-up to this story and it seems the hops destroyed in the Yakima fire represent 4% of the total U.S. supply, or about 2 million pounds of hops. The Yakima Herald-Republic has a more in-depth article, along with additional photos, too. According to the Yakima article, “[t]he 10,000 bales weighing about 200 pounds each, were probably worth between $1.75 and $2 per pound, based on average prices this year. That puts the fire’s monetary damage between $3.5 million and $4 million.”
GORDON KING/Yakima Herald-Republic