Alberta Barley

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Jan 15

Rise in craft brew demand is a huge opportunity for farmers

Posted on Jan 15 By: Jeremy Simes

A spike in craft brew demand across North America will call for an increase of up to 300,000 tonnes of malt barley per year over the next five years, according to Kevin Sich, manager of the cereals department at Rahr Malting.

“At the rate it’s growing, we don’t see it slowing down until 2022,” Sich added.

This market shift is primarily due to the change in tastes of younger people, or the 18-to-34 demographic, he said.

“Beer is being used for pairing—like wine—more often now. When you go out to a restaurant, you’re going to accompany your steak with one of these craft beers because they’re a nice, rich, malty beer and they taste good,” Sich explained. “So when you start drinking that for a while, you’ll find there isn’t much taste to something else.”

Despite a boost in craft demand, overall malting barley production in Western Canada has declined by nearly one-third from 9.7 million tonnes in 2013 to 6.7 million in 2014, according to the Canadian Grain Commission.

However, the malt variety AC Metcalfe increased in seeded acres from 36.3 per cent of total area seeded in 2013 to 38.9 per cent in 2014. The use of malt variety CDC Copeland also grew from 25.8 per cent to 29.8 per cent from 2013 to 2014.

This increase means that the momentum could be shifting for malt barley production. In fact, in the United States, craft sales rose by 17.2 per cent, or 15.3 million barrels, over the past year—providing a great opportunity that farmers should readily seize, Sich explained.

“If we can further service the U.S. craft industry and get a Canadian craft industry growing, then I think it’s a huge opportunity,” he added.

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