GROWTH IN the Russian malting barley market could see the UK losing out if the industry fails to develop alternative markets, one company has warned.
Since 1990 there has been a succession of maltings closures in the UK and some of this can be attributed to a growth in brewing and malting in former Soviet Union states, said Gordon Gowlett from Gowlett Grain.
“At the moment these maltings are importing barley, as local supplies are of insufficient quality. But this will change and the UK could be one of the countries to lose out.”
In 10 years time he believes Russia and other FSU countries could be net exporters of malting barley and will compete with the UK.
“The only scope for growth is in the developed markets (such as Japan, China, India and Asia) where consumers are looking for specific quality criteria, he said.
At the moment, traceability in the UK is ahead of the rest of the world, but the gap is closing, added the firm’s Roger Saych.
“The UK has a tradition for producing good malting barley, but breeders haven’t really made any significant breakthroughs with varieties suitable for maltsters.”
Many older, smaller scale maltings will continue to close as capacity is taken up by more efficient plants, he said. Over the last 12 months alone the UK has lost 150,000t of old malting capacity from Ipswich to Scotland, he noted.