The vibrant and innovative Canadian barley industry produces about eight million tonnes of barley annually, over half of which comes from Alberta. Approximately 1.5 million tonnes of barley are exported, with the top three destination countries being the United States, Japan and China.
The majority of barley produced in Alberta—sometimes as much as 80 per cent of total annual production—is used as feed for livestock, including cattle, swine, poultry and sheep. Most notably, barley fuels the multibillion-dollar Alberta beef industry and gives Alberta beef its great taste and texture.
Canada is also a source of high quality malting barley, which is processed into malt for beer and food products. Canada averages annual malt exports of roughly 620,000 tonnes, valued at about $380 million annually. Once again, Alberta leads the pack, producing nearly half of Canadian malt exports on an annual basis valued at nearly $180 million. In recent years, the top destinations for Canadian malt include the United States, Japan, South Africa and South Korea.
Alberta’s food barley production in 2012 was approximately 1,200 tonnes, including pot and pearl barley. This is a small market, but Alberta Barley is committed to growing it. Since 2012, significant investment has been made to grow food barley markets internationally.