Regional Beverage Chamber debates hop production in RS

Brazil is the third largest beer producer in the world; Rio Grande do Sul has been consolidating itself as the second Brazilian state with the most beverage factories

14.06.2023 | 15:24 (UTC -3)
Elaine Pinto/Seapi
Brazil is the third largest beer producer in the world; Rio Grande do Sul has been consolidating itself as the second Brazilian state with the most beverage factories; Photo: Fernando Dias
Brazil is the third largest beer producer in the world; Rio Grande do Sul has been consolidating itself as the second Brazilian state with the most beverage factories; Photo: Fernando Dias

The current scenario of microbreweries in Rio Grande do Sul and the emerging hop culture in the State were topics at the meeting of the Regional Beverage Sector Chamber on Tuesday (13/06), held in a hybrid format by the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Sustainable Production and Irrigation ( Seapi).

The chamber's coordinator, João Giovanella, pointed out that Brazil is the third largest beer producer in the world, and that Rio Grande do Sul has been consolidating itself as the second Brazilian state with the most beer factories. The State accounts for a third of the volume of craft beer produced nationally. “Craft beers now represent 4% of the market in Brazil. It seems little, but before it was 2%, so we doubled our participation. This is significant”, he assesses. The average annual growth rate of beer production in Rio Grande do Sul is 19,4%, according to data presented by the Associação Gaúcha de Microcervejarias (AGM).

Giovanella pointed to the importance of articulating the private sector with public bodies to share information and develop actions that strengthen the beverage production chain, especially craft beers.

Actions to promote hop cultivation in Santa Catarina

Agricultural engineer Stéfano Kretzer, owner of Lúpulo do Vale and consultant to the Ministry of Agriculture, presented actions to promote hop cultivation conducted in Santa Catarina.

He pointed to the importance of establishing processing units for groups or associations of producers to separate, dry and bale hops, in addition to a central unit that pelletizes the product, since 99% of hops are sold in this area. Format.

“The structure is very similar to the grape and wine production chain, and like it, it needs public policies in credit lines and exemptions, processing units, cooperatives or producer associations. And, to maintain these processing units and groups of producers, there must be a guarantee of commercialization”, he added.

Among the bottlenecks in hop production in Brazil, Kretzer identifies that the main ones are the production volume, which is still small compared to demand; the homogeneity of production throughout the year; and the structure of the production chain itself.

Lúpulo Project: Characterization of production in RS

Researchers Alexander Cenci and Carlos Alberto de Oliveira, from Seapi's Department of Agricultural Diagnosis and Research, presented some research and rural extension actions focused on hop cultivation. The activities are carried out in an interinstitutional partnership between the Secretariat, Emater/RS-Ascar, the State University of Rio Grande do Sul (Uergs) and the University of Caxias do Sul (UCS).

Among the main actions carried out since 2021 are: research on hop producers in Serra do Nordeste; tissue culture for hop seedlings; plant exhibition at Expointer and the Harvest Festival; a census of hop producers in Rio Grande do Sul; training of Emater/RS-Ascar technicians; installation of a hop cultivation demonstration unit, at the State Center for Diagnosis and Research in Viticulture (CEVITIS), in Caxias do Sul; and setting up a greenhouse for hop plants.

Cenci highlighted the need to have more institutions included in the interinstitutional partnership and the continuity of joint actions with Emater/RS-Ascar for research and training courses. “We also want to finalize the structuring of the experimental hop area that we have at the Caxias do Sul Research Center, expanding the scope to other brewing inputs, such as malt, for example,” he added.

Carlos presented some data about the 1st Survey of hop producers (RS Census), carried out with 40 farmers spread across the State. The average hop producer in Rio Grande do Sul is male, aged 30 to 39, with less than four years involved in growing the plant. His property is up to five hectares, but the hop growing area, in most cases, is restricted to less than a thousand square meters, 10% of a hectare. “It is very characteristic of a crop that is just starting, which is being tested by producers”, assessed the researcher.

The good news, according to Carlos, is that the majority of producers (82,5%) intend to expand the cultivation area. “Many positive points are associated with hops: it is a productive crop in our climate and soil conditions, rustic, and easy to adapt. Furthermore, it can be grown in small areas, it is a perennial crop with easy seedling production,” he listed. Among the negative points listed by producers are the cost of implementation, the lack of technical knowledge and the absence of financing lines and chemical products that are registered with the Ministry of Agriculture for use in hop cultivation.

At the end of the meeting, Emater/RS-Ascar extensionist Carlos Gabriel Nunes dos Santos informed about the holding of the State Hop Culture Webinar, this Thursday (15/6), to be broadcast on Emater's social networks.

Representatives of the following entities participated in the meeting: Associação Gaúcha de Microcervejarias (AGM), Banco do Brasil, Emater/RS-Ascar, Lúpulo do Vale, Salva Craft Beer and the Secretariat of Rural Development (SDR).

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