Global malting barley shortages could boost Norfolk producers

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Global shortages of malting barley for beer making could boost Norfolk producers who have produced some of the best harvests in the world this year, a top maltster said.

A catastrophic failure of the Canadian harvest and supply shortages in Europe – compounded by droughts in the Czech Republic, Poland and Sweden – have left the world short of malting barley, said Bob King, commercial director of Crisp Malting Group, based in Great Ryburgh.

But he told the Holt and District Farmers’ Club that the local crop has been the best in the world, both for yield and quality.

As a result, malt barley prices are expected to exceed £ 200 per tonne for the next harvest in 2022, he suggested.

In addition, soaring fertilizer prices could encourage producers to plant more spring barley rather than second wheat.

After Canada’s crop was hit by record temperatures in July, the United States ran out of malting barley. Now, the industry was hoping that southern hemisphere crops in Australia and Argentina could help fill the global deficit.

Mr King said he hopes the county’s biggest maltster could avoid production disruptions amid the current energy crisis, especially since he’s a heavy user of gas. It was last hit in 2008 when the gas supply was cut for 10 to 12 days.

But after the horrific 2020 harvest, the outlook for specialty growers in the heart of Norfolk malting barley country was very bright, he added.

The meeting also heard the results of the club’s annual malting barley competition.

Chris Borrett, of Adams and Howling grain merchants, said a total of 48 samples were seized.

Supreme Champion Holt’s Flagon winter barley sample was grown by Ed Jones of Harold Jones Farms in Little Witchingham. He will be judged for the supreme club title against the best of the Stalham Farmers’ Club in the New Year.

The Spring Barley Prize was won by GW Harrold of Melton Constable, with a sample of the Laureate variety.

More than 30 club members met at Holt Rugby Club for the first time, having met at the town’s Feathers Hotel for the past 70 years.

There has been a notable departure from the head table with the retirement of former chairman Bill van Poortvliet, who stepped down from the committee after serving the club for the past 40 years.

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