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Cheers raised for UK malting barley based on buoyant markets and good reputation abroad




UK spring malting barley growers could have reasons to cheer for the New Year with buoyant markets and successful UK exports, suggest industry experts.

According to Stuart Shand, sales director and malting trader for international merchant Gleadell Agriculture, factors such as increasing world beer demand, decreasing world barley area, and only just enough malting barley in the world, are all in play in the malting barley market, and premiums are historically high.

This is good news for UK growers, he says, because although European lager demand is declining, demand for UK distilling and real ale and demand for UK export barley are increasing, with the UK having earned a good reputation abroad.

“The world keeps reducing its barley area and global beer sales continue to go up around 2.5% per year,” explains Mr Shand. “So you’ve got positive beer consumption and very tight world stocks. Therefore there are currently big premiums on malting barley.

“The other good thing is that the UK is getting a very good reputation for being of very good quality year on year. So world brewers and EU maltsters have been buying UK barley because they can buy with confidence,” he points out.

Samantha Brooke
With many of the UK’s larger capacity breweries also large brewers on a world stage, Mr Shand says this adds to the argument for farmers growing malting varieties not only suited to the UK but also recognised in overseas markets. As an up-and-coming example, he highlights the spring variety Propino.

“Because Propino is grown elsewhere, they are more likely to want it in their breweries here,” says Mr Shand. “That’s the argument for a pan European variety. It fits both UK domestic brewing and export,” he adds.

Cereal specialist Samantha Brooke of Syngenta agrees that growers are facing a more buoyant spring malting barley market, and says as malting and brewing have become more pan European in nature, it is useful for growers to factor this in with their variety decisions, to help spread end market opportunities and risk.

“To date, NFC Tipple and Quench have established themselves among leading pan European options,” says Mrs Brooke. “But Propino is now joining these.

“Over the last few years, Propino has been added to the HGCA Recommended List and, in summer 2011, it received full approval for brewing use on the Institute of Brewing and Distilling approved list.

“But on top of this, Propino is now also commercially accepted in Denmark, Finland, Germany and Holland, as well as being fully approved in Ireland and under test in Sweden. So it is now entering its first full season having passed all these major end market milestones, just at a time of good domestic and overseas malting barley demand.”

From a yield perspective, among the spring barley varieties with full IBD malting approval for brewing use on the 2012 HGCA Recommended List, Mrs Brooke says Propino has the highest figure for UK treated yield. Additionally, it has good resistance to key diseases of Rhynchosporium and mildew, and similar earliness of ripening to NFC Tipple, she adds.

According to Stuart Shand, while the winter barley area keeps going down in the UK, there is maximum demand for spring barley. “There is a good demand for a new variety,” he adds.


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