The craft beer boom of the past 15 years has created an incredible demand and an significant opportunity for hop growers to increase revenue, but it has also created challenges when continuing to stay on top of properly insuring crops and hop operations. As the value of the crop has increase dramatically, the need for proper and ongoing valuation is essential to continued success.
Craft Beer Popularity Creates New Opportunities & Risks
“Hop coverage is unique in the agriculture industry because it is one of the only crops that have traditional coverage for the growing crop that can be bought through a traditional carrier rather than through a government program,” said Alyssa Goins, hop insurance and risk management specialist at PayneWest. “Because we work with a large percentage of the hop growers in the northwest, we have a unique understanding of the market and we can make sure our clients are properly covered.”
For Goins, the rapidly changing market requires a hands-on, in-depth annual review with all of her hop growers. “Our goal is to make sure the insurance matches the increased valuations or other changes in the clients business,” she said. “We do a deep dive into contracts, looking a current price per pound and their current and historic yields in order to get a real time picture of what the exposures are.”
This review also extends beyond just the fields to make sure that processing equipment is properly insured and operations are covered. “In the past, the industry had used older equipment and facilities, but with the craft beer boom we have seen growers make substantial upgrades to the equipment and facilities.” said Goins. Because it is a boutique industry, there are only a few manufactures of the processing equipment. This affects the way PayneWest works with clients to structure coverage. “In the current market, it can take 18-24 months to get new equipment,” said Goins. “We also take that into consideration when we are looking at business interruption coverage.”
This dedicated annual review can pay dividends for clients when the unexpected happens. In 2019, we experienced a very unusual and severe wind event in the Northwest. Although hop growers in the region had significantly upgraded the designs and structures of their hop trellis systems, several PayneWest clients suffered field collapse Losses. Thankfully, because of the previous work that Goins and her clients had done to maintain accurate and thorough records of historical yields and current valuation, the growers were able to simplify the claim process and recover accurate losses within 30 days after harvest, ensuring the economic vitality of several hop operations.
Goins anticipates that this dynamic market will continue to change and grow and PayneWest is committed to working with growers and insurance providers to craft the right solutions and strategies to continue to protect the hop industry.