19 May 2000

Demand for malt rising worldwide

WORLD demand for malt and malting barley is rising. And as beer consumption in Asia and South America rockets, demand for the raw material will expand further.

"UK barley growers are in a strong position to take an increased slice of the larger market," says Alan Ridealgh, grain director for Suffolk-based independent maltster Muntons.

"The average growth in beer production over the past 10 years has been 2% per annum. It is anticipated to rise from 1300m hectolitres now to 1600m by 2005. This will increase world demand for malting barley by 325,000t a year."

Far Eastern beer production has expanded 31% since 1996, there has been a rise of 7% in South America, and 2% in Africa, says Mr Ridealgh.

Eastern Europe is a nearer-to-home growth market. Last year Russia imported 383,000t from the EU compared with 186,000t in 1998. And with consumption just 20 litres/head a year, 25% of the UK level, there is scope for expansion.

"The export demand is for spring malting barley with grain Ns in the range 1.65-1.85. So for the future spring barley is a crop worth considering. If a contract is offered growers should ensure it is backed by a maltster, brewer or reputable merchant." &#42