Added zest for malting barley sector

Higher grain prices, an expanding malting industry and new varieties create a cocktail that's giving added cheer to malting barley growers.Adrian Dyter, commercial director of Greencore Malt, said farm prices for spring malting barley had been driven to unprecedented levels this year - in some cases exceeding £200 per tonne.

Higher grain prices, an expanding malting industry and new varieties create a cocktail that's giving added cheer to malting barley growers.

Adrian Dyter, commercial director of Greencore Malt, said farm prices for spring malting barley had been driven to unprecedented levels this year - in some cases exceeding £200 per tonne.

This was because of strong feed barley prices driven by the wheat price, as well as tight worldwide supply and demand balance for malting quality barley, he said.

While domestic demand for malt for brewing has fallen slightly, the UK brewing industry remains a large consumer. What is more, distilling demand for malt is increasing with growing whisky consumption and malt exports are now at a regular and sustainable level, according to Mr Dyter.


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He said: "The UK malting industry is regularly consuming 1.75m tonnes of malting barley, is the third-largest producer of malt in Europe and accounts for nearly 10pc of worldwide malt production.

"Demand for malt from the distilling industry is set to increase further. Stocks of spirit are low, and, if the strong growth we are seeing in markets such as India, China and South America continues, distillers will need to produce more whisky. The additional distilling demand is drawing up malt from England."

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At global level, Mr Dyter said demand for malt had grown faster than malting plant capacity lately. He predicts continued worldwide growth in demand for malt because of higher consumption of beer.

Stuart Shand, sales director of Gleadell Agriculture, agreed that the future looked optimistic for malting barley. The current supply and demand squeeze mirrored the picture in other crops with shrinking grain stocks and increasing world food demand. "Malting barley avail-ability has decreased by 1 million tonnes since 2000," he added.

Robert Hiles, of barley breeder New Farm Crops, said the new spring malting barley variety, Quench, being made available commercially to farmers for 2008, was rapidly gaining appeal.

"From harvest 2007, around 5,600 tonnes of Quench are being evaluated by seven different maltsters, which is a significant tonnage. It may be a year or two behind NFC Tipple in terms of its development, but it looks to have a positive future," he said.

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