The first shipment of fresh hops for 2017 has had a partial recall.
New Zealand Hops has recalled fresh hop shipments sent out this week, after they started to rot in their boxes.
NZHops fresh hop programme head George Tunstall says the unprecedented problem arose when the fresh hops were packaged in cardboard cartons. In previous seasons they were transported in plastic crates designed for fresh fruit & veg, but these are not available this year.
“We’ve never used a carton before and we had no real understanding of how it might be affected. The general consensus was that they should be fine because they are stored well and in there for a short period. Next year we are looking at building a purpose-built carton or buying our own crates.”
The hops were picked on a warm day earlier this week, and retained their heat when packed.
“The hops were perfect and it’s just a shame that the heat yield caused some damage. They are cold-shipped, but once you pack warm goods into a carton it’s hard for the cold air to get across them with enough breathing space. It seemed to be exacerbated by being backed together on the pallet and the accumulated heat towards the centre of the pallet caused some problems. It wasn’t all of the hops but we didn’t like the fact some were tarnished so, rather than disappoint anybody in Auckland with the longer delivery time, we recalled them and encouraged them into the next week’s delivery of Nelson Sauvin, and made our apologies.”
Brewers were commenting on social media on the quality of the hops. Some cartons were warmer than 40C when received, and their contents were brown and smelly, in a bad way. The first shipment was made up of Motueka and Taiheke variety hops.
“We did our best yesterday to replace some shipments. I went out personally and collected another 300-odd kilos of green hops and we’re couriering them today. The next delivery of Nelson Sauvin will be given enough time to cool before being packed. We’ve taken increased orders for that second delivery.
“Most customers were really good about it. They recognised it is a perishable commodity and subject to time delays. That’s why we were trying to process it as quickly possible, but being too fast can actually hinder you. We’ve learnt our lesson there and we won’t be repeating it.”