21 March 1997

Distillers big premiums

UNITED Distillers is offering Scottish malting barley growers premiums of between £33 and £40/t this harvest.

Contracts will be offered for 70,000t, of which 20,000t will be for the winter variety Melanie at £33/t over the spot feed barley price, for grain of between 1.51% and 1.60% nitrogen. Spring varieties Chariot, Derkado, and Prisma will command a premium of £37/t at 1.55-1.60% and £40for 1.51-1.55% N. Contractsfor 30,000t will be offered.

UD cereals manager David Sole said he was committed to paying a sensible premium for malting barley. "We are the largest consumers of cereals in Scotland, buying 500,000t a year, of which more than half is malting barley. We have no intention of returning to the days of boom or bust."

Some maltsters question whether these premiums are sustainable, given the depressing effect of currency on export prospects.