By FWi staff
GROWERS should not hold their breath in the hope of significantly higher malting barley prices in the next two seasons.
However, the three- to five-year outlook is more positive. said speakers at a forum at Inverness last week.
The meeting, on the theme of “Should you be growing for exports”, was organised by British Cereal Exports, Highland Grain and the NFU of Scotland.
The underlying international demand for malt is rising inexorably, leading to an increase in demand for malting barley of 1.5 million tonnes over the next four years, said Peter Crisford of The Malting Barley Company.
It was also predicted that world beer production would rise from 1.266 billion litres in 1996 to 1.347bn litres by 2000.
This would lead to an increase in malting barley traded internationally from 4.2 to 6.0m tonnes in the next three seasons.
“Europe will be able to cover its own malting barley needs and will be well placed to meet the additional demand farm deficit countries in South America and the far East, including China,” said Richard Rolink of Weissheimer Maltz.
Mr Rolink expects GATT and Agenda 2000 to encourage increased production of malting barley in Europe.
Import levies and export restitutions will be reduced and intervention prices for feed grain will be lower. Oilseed premiums will also be reduced, he said.
“I was impressed by my tour of Highland Grain, the first Scottish supplier of 100% assured grain,” said Mr Rolink.
“Within two years my company will be buying only traceable barley, and are looking for barley which achieves 98% germination,” he said.
But farmers need to know their product and the potential markets, said producer William Gill.
“We have all heard about malting barley last year that made £60 or less. Theres no excuse for that – its bad marketing.
“The wrong product went to the wrong outlet. That barley should have gone for feed,” he said.