Malt market on rise as distillery businesses boom
- Credit: Archant
A booming distilling sector means the market for barley will be strong this year, experts predict.
The UK spring barley harvest could be large this year - if more is grown after weather problems hampered winter cereal planting.
But there are opportunities for the crop, a malting barley conference in Newmarket - hosted by seeds and agrochemicals firm Syngenta - was told.
MORE - 'Fabulous' £75m mega factory at Eye - set to process 1m chickens a week - is up and runningVariety specialist Samantha Brooke pointed out the UK produces some of the best quality malting barley in the world, putting it in a strong position to sell into home markets and abroad.
"The availability of dual-purpose spring malting barley varieties, which are suitable for distilling and brewing, gives growers additional flexibility just at a time when distilling for whisky production and the amount of malted barley included in certain ales are both increasing," she said.
Jonathan Roberts, UK barley procurement manager for Boortmalt, which has a malting plant at Bury St Edmunds, as well as in Yorkshire and in Scotland, agreed the distilling market is booming.
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He predicted that purchases of the dual-purpose spring barley variety Laureate will continue to increase in 2020.
"The distilling market isn't slowing down, so the role of dual-purpose varieties is very important. Knapton supports the distilling market in Scotland. Bury St Edmunds is primarily for brewing and export. Being able to pull in Laureate and look at brewing and distilling offers us an opportunity and an opportunity for our growers," he said.
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Boortmalt key account manager Sam Colman, who sells malt to end users, said while malt use had previously declined, it was now on the increase.
"There is continued strong demand for British malt from both global and local brewers," he said.
The UK had a long history of producing quality malt and a good reputation which meant Laureate malted in East Anglia goes to Japan for distilling, and several Boortmalt brewing customers had a blend which includes Laureate, he said.
Syngenta business manager in the Eastern counties Mike Welby said managing disease and brackling (buckling in the lower part of the stem) of barley stems so ears remain intact, were key.
"Due to the loss of the multi-site fungicide chlorothalonil, a particular disease to be aware of this year will be Ramularia. Chlorothalonil can only be used up until May 20, 2020. However, a trial near Bury St Edmunds has shown a similar yield response from including an alternative multi-site fungicide, folpet," he said.