Consumption of hops and its by-products
In Europe and Asia, the tender cones of the hop plant have been consumed since Ancient times, sometimes raw, more often cooked, like asparagus points. These are referred to as hops shoots. After being boiled for a long time, the young leaves were sometimes eaten during famines. Finally, hops have also been used to make leavening for bread.
However, hops are most widely known for the female cones, which are used to brew beer. Used since the Middle Ages to flavour the fermented drink known in Roman times as cervisia, hops have replaced a variety of plants previously used for this purpose -yarrow, southernwood, juniper, myrtle, boxwood, gentian and ivy.
With 150 billion litres in 2005, beer is one of the most widely consumed drinks in the world.
We can note that in Europe, where beer is a traditional drink, consumption has stagnated or is declining, in contrast with Asia and Latin America, where the market is booming.