2. Materiality

The company discloses the aspects of its business operations that have a significant impact on sustainability issues and what material impact sustainability issues have on its operations. It analyses the positive and negative effects and provides information as to how these insights are integrated into the company’s processes.

Over the past 175 years, Simon H. Steiner, Hopfen, GmbH, now led by the sixth family generation, has developed into one of the world’s leading hop trading businesses. The company is part of a comparatively small community, which includes not only the suppliers and their growing regions but also customers, who are mainly in the global brewing industry. The general framework of regulations in the agricultural products sector is defined by the agricultural policies of national governments, the legal requirements and standards of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United Nations, and the European Union. On the European level this includes the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the Green Deal relating to the EU Farm-to-Fork Strategy, and the regulations relevant to pesticides.  

The HOPSTEINER sustainability topics were identified in a joint workshop with the company’s sustainability team, which altogether consists of ten employees and the executive management. These topics were clustered according to the four areas of action: market, employees, environment, and society, and then prioritized. Following this, the total of 32 topics were classified as material and positioned in a materiality matrix.    

Market Environment Employees Society
Hop breeding
Energy savings Training of specialist employees Regional contract award
Sustainable relationships with customers Use of renewable energy Working hours regulations (home-office, flexible working hours, part-time, family and career balance) Many employees’ personal voluntary engagements
Product quality assurance Integrated crop protection Workflows / optimized work practices Regional sponsoring
Food safety Recyclable packaging (except films) Interdepartmental understanding  
Dialog with growers Use of environmentally compatible materials / resource conservation Working hours regulations in production  
Storage (raw materials and finished products) In-house wastewater treatment Employee satisfaction  
Sustainable relationships with banks   Succession planning  
Digitalization / DM      
Product innovations (F&E)      
Market security (raw material availability)      
Customer information (customer portal)      
Supplier information (grower portal)      
Hops quality assurance      
Financial and logistics functions      
Irrigation requirement      
Support of small-scale farming structures      


Our company philosophy is firmly based on commitment and service to our customers. This is recognized in our claim “Committed to the customer.” Our goal is to supply hops and hop products of the highest quality to breweries and customers from other sectors all over the world. Quality assurance and food safety are therefore material topics for our customers and our company.  

We also place great value on reliable and individualized advice. Regular satisfaction surveys help to ensure we have sustainable relationships with our customers. Their analyses lead to important knowledge about our strengths and potentials. This mutual exchange of information creates trust and an improved understanding of the market for the customer.  

Delivery on schedule is essential for the security of supply of resources. The procurement of raw hops depends greatly on climatic conditions and is affected by the degree to which our suppliers fulfill their contracts. Therefore we always seek to establish long-term partnerships and conclude multi-year advance contracts with our customers and suppliers. In the interests of promoting regional agriculture, we also support small-scale farming structures among our growers. Procurement risk can be mitigated by in-house product development and hop breeding. The logic here is that new varieties can expand market share in the long term.  

Extending and increasing digitalization (see Criterion 3), in particular in relation to digital document management, contributes to savings in personnel costs, improved workflows, the avoidance of mistakes and duplication, and reduced complexity for customers and suppliers through offering them a simplified means of accessing information. Digitalization also positively reinforces our self-image as a forward-looking company. We intend to avoid any loss of personal contact as a secondary effect of digitalization, for example, in the case of electronic grower contracts where we will be continuing our visits to our growers as normal in the future.  


Only through holistically responsible actions, sustainable management, and careful use of resources can we continue to offer a natural product such as hops in a consistently high standard of quality. Therefore, we place particular emphasis on energy savings and the use of renewable energy. Both these measures make a positive contribution to protecting the environment, reducing costs and emissions, and the strengthening of regional structures through local procurement of woodchips for our company heating system.  

Our business activities are affected to a crucial degree by climate change. Rising average temperatures increase the water requirement in hop growing and worsen the problem of strict legal restraints on our irrigation options. To secure the required stable yields and quality for the future, we intensively research new breeding varieties that can cope with less water. In addition, we are working with others on the development of new, innovative irrigation concepts (see Criterion 12). The monoculture approach associated with hop growing harbors risks for the environment. One such risk is loss of yield through pests and diseases. We combat this with intensive growing and crop protection advice, our own hop breeding program, and investment in research. In the course of our successful hop breeding program, we have introduced more resistant, tolerant varieties to the market. These varieties can be cultivated with much less pesticide (see Criterion 4).  


Employees are our most important resource. Mutual trust and the technical and personal competence of all employees are the basis of success. Particularly relevant topics in this area are employee satisfaction, optimized workflows, and the training of specialists. Opportunities and risks relating to the employee area of action are described in Criteria 14 to 16.  


Material topics in the field of society include local sponsoring, the regional award of contracts, and the support of our employees’ voluntary engagements. Opportunities and risks relating to the society field of action are described in Criterion 18.