By Andy Young

Hop Products Australia (HPA) has unveiled plans to extend its hoping growing operations in Victoria and Tasmania by 50 per cent over the next three years, with a $15 million investment.

HPA says the investment represents a strong vote of confidence in the future growth of the global craft brewing industry. The announcement, which coincided with the start of the 2015 hop harvest, confirmed HPA's first significant capital investment in land, plant and equipment for 20 years.

Bushy Park Estates this year celebrates its 150th continuous hop harvest

HPA's managing director, Tim Lord, said: "Our farms are among the oldest continuously operating hop farms in the world; dedicated to hop growing since the late 1800s.

"We are investing to help satisfy the demand for our proprietary hops, such as Galaxy, Ella and Vic Secret, to ensure breweries in Australia and around the world can continue to make craft beer full of Australian hop character.

"These varieties have turned our business around; five years ago we had a gross turnover of $10m and were not very profitable; now our turnover is $20m, heading to $30m."

HPA will use the $15m to purchase land, invest in picking and kilning infrastructures and developed plant propagation facilities at its Rostrevor Hop Garden in Eurobin, north Victoria and Bushy Park Estates in Tasmania. This year sees Bushy Park Estates celebrating its 150th continuous harvest.

The investment is a reflection of the booming craft beer industry both in Australia and around the world and Lord added that it shows how well Australian hops are competing with those from overseas.

Lord said: "HPA is a good news story in Australian agriculture. In the past decade we have transitioned from competing internationally at the mercy of commodity-based industry to thriving with a differentiated product offering through our proprietary hop varieties."

The first stage of the expansion will begin in mid-2015 and will ultimately see a 50 per cent increase in the area under hops and a doubling of processing capability at Rostrevor Hop Gardens.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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