A new joint craft beer and hop breeding programme launched today aims to develop unique super-premium hops for exceptional craft brewers and uniquely New Zealand craft beer for top-tier markets.
Hāpi Research Ltd has partnered with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to deliver Hāpi – Brewing Success, a $13.25 million, 7-year Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme.
Hāpi Research Ltd is a joint venture between Garage Project, a leading Wellington craft brewer, and Freestyle Farms, a leading Nelson hop farm. While the programme was initiated by Garage Project and Freestyle Farms, it will grow as more like-minded businesses and research partners join the industrywide efforts.
"Our programme will pursue research to enhance and differentiate super-premium hop and craft beer markets and boost the growth of both industries," says Freestyle Farms director David Dunbar. "By collaborating across industries we'll accelerate development of unique Kiwi hops, promote uniquely New Zealand craft beer, and open up new areas to hop growing."
Hop growing will be supported by research on new precision agriculture practices and processing methods, and licensing for the hops will be limited to New Zealand growers.
Tom Greally, chief executive officer for Garage Project, says the programme intends to support entry into new markets for New Zealand craft brewers and enable new grower and brewer business models.
"We want to create a sustainable point of difference for New Zealand grown hops and craft beer," says Mr Greally. "Through the programme, we want to understand the unique chemical compounds of our hops that produce New Zealand flavours, and how to best accentuate them in finished beer."
Garage Project co-founder Jos Ruffell adds, "Our aspiration is to develop the resources and tools for domestic and export success along the lines of what our wine industry has achieved – elevating New Zealand craft beer to a sustainable global brand that commands premium pricing across all markets."
MPI director-general Martyn Dunne says: "The Hāpi – Brewing Success PGP programme will create a cross-industry research and development programme that's commercially viable, sustainable in the long-term, with strong commercialisation pathways driven by the market.
"The collaborative efforts will strongly support development of high-value, premium products from regional businesses.
"The Hāpi – Brewing Success PGP programme will help growers and brewers to explore new possibilities for our hop growing and craft beer industries."
Hāpi Research Ltd is contributing $7.95 million (60%) and MPI is contributing $5.3 million (40%) over the term of the Hāpi – Brewing Success Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme.
If successful, the programme expects hop revenue to grow to $132 million per annum by 2027, which is $89 million higher than the revenue forecasted without the programme. In addition, the programme expects craft beer revenue to grow to $98.5 million per annum by 2027, which is $82 million higher than the revenue forecasted without the programme. The growth in both hop and craft beer would be driven by exports.
The co-investors expect 835 new jobs to be created across the hop growing and craft brewing industries if the economic goals are achieved. A key aspect of the programme is that the intellectual property and expertise it develops will be retained in New Zealand.
The programme has 5 interrelated projects:
- Project 1: Hop Breeding. This project is a mixture of classical breeding methods combined with new molecular techniques to improve the speed and efficiency of the programme. The primary goal is to commercialise 3 new premium varietals and support the release of 3 royalty-free varietals.
- Project 2: Precision Farming and Hop Processing. Research on optimal growing, harvesting and processing strategies to deliver unique flavours and aromas from the field to the glass. This workstream will also explore the impacts of regional terroir on flavour and aromas.
- Project 3: Hop Varietal Market Development. Creation of new licensing models for premium hop varietals with new and existing growers, combined with developing quality standards for hop processing to deliver quality and consistency into markets that supports premium pricing.
- Project 4: Uniquely New Zealand Craft Beer. This project aims to create a unique, category-defining New Zealand craft beer by understanding and maximizing the unique New Zealand flavours achievable through New Zealand grown hops.
- Project 5: Combined Hop and Craft Beer Industry Growth. Creating opportunities to enhance and connect the New Zealand industry participants to markets. Market development efforts including events connecting New Zealand craft brewers to international distributors and New Zealand growers to international craft brewers.
Hāpi – Brewing Success was 1 of 9 business cases for new PGP programmes in the pipeline prior to the announcement of the Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures Programme.