With more than 14 billion liters of beer produced annually, Brazil accounts for 7% of global beer consumption, trailing only behind China and the United States. The states of São Paulo, Santa Catarina, Paraná, and Rio Grande do Sul lead the national production.
Despite the success, Brazil still imports more than 99% of the total volume of hops used in beer manufacturing. However, this scenario is about to change. In recent years, hops farming has gained prominence and now is rapidly expanding in the country, due to Brazil’s agricultural potential and the agronomists’ advances in agricultural technology.
Currently, the Brazilian market offers practically everything needed regarding inputs for proper growing, adapted to the country’s climate and soil conditions. “Supplemental lighting has been a significant advancement, allowing for a leap in quality and productivity of hops grown in Brazil,” says Eduarda Lee Ferreira Lima, Deputy Technician at CNA. She also mentions that, unlike other countries, Brazil can carry out three harvests per year, each lasting about four months.
The advancement of hops cultivation is shown in numbers. Brazilian hops production has increased exponentially in recent years, from three producers in 2015 to more than 80 in 2023. The production growth in 2021 was 160% compared to 2020. Estimates from the Brazilian Association of Hops Producers (APROLÚPULO) show that the cultivated area is expected to double in 2023, reaching nearly 200 hectares in 2024, making Brazil the largest hops producer in Latin America.
“It is important to remember that, as a new crop in the country, hops already follow the best sustainability practices,” says APROLÚPULO’s President, Herman Wigman. The association of producers has played a crucial role in developing hops farming in the country. A significant focus is the input’s trade opening to the beer market, providing producers with greater security in decision-making to enter the activity or expand their existing areas.
“Brazilian hops already compete on par with the rest of the world regarding quality, and the next step is to increase productivity to ensure more competitive prices and delivery steadiness to the beer market,” says Mr. Wigman. He highlights that, with two harvests per year, Brazil’s productivity is already similar to that of the main global producers.
The advances in domestic hops production represent a positive factor for the national beer market, which will be able to use fresh inputs and become independent on imports from past harvests. Additionally, there is potential for exporting, making Brazil a major global player in the sector.
There are significant opportunities for the domestic machinery industry to develop solutions that are already used in crops around the world, both in field management, processing, and industrialization stages. “We have already started developing national cultivars. There are academic and private initiatives in this path, but we still have a long way to go, mainly due to the high investments involved,” says CNA’s technician.
Furthermore, the recent inclusion of hops in the National Development Bank’s (BNDES) Program of Modernization of Agriculture and Conservation of Natural Resources (MODERAGRO) opens up new financing perspectives for hops producers and rural companies, further boosting its growth.
“Access to credit is one of the challenges for this innovative crop, which has the potential to make a significant impact on the Brazilian beer chain production over the next years. Inclusion in that program opens up new perspectives for expanding already active areas and for new producers to enter the market,” says APROLÚPULO’s President.
With its rapid evolution, Brazil is paving the way to become a reference in the Southern Hemisphere as a producer of high-quality, sustainable hops with great global competitiveness.