The UK’s healthy production of malting barley this year looks like providing work for blenders and brewers, but is a boon for distillers, thanks to the lowest nitrogen level on record.
The HGCA crop bureau, upgrading its estimates of crop specifications from this year’s British grains harvest, cut even further it idea of the nitrogen content, to 1.53%.
That is down 0.13 points on the average level, and the “lowest since records begin in 1977”, the bureau said, adding that this would be “beneficial to the distilling sector”, which prefers a low nitrogen level in its malt.
“However, for brewers, who require a higher nitrogen content, this could lead a more challenging year ahead,” said Amandeep Kaur Purewal, senior HGCA analyst.
‘Giving work to blenders’
The crop specifications mean that brewers, which have boosted their performance in part through demanding consistent raw material quality, “may have to adjust their processes”, said Matthias Wree, managing partner at malting barley trading house Evergrain International.
It also looks like “giving work to blenders” to source and mix crops scoring higher on nitrogen for brewery customers, as well as providing desired protein levels too.
“There may be areas of the UK where protein has reached 10-10.5%. But that is likely to be taken in by blenders, rather than making it onto the open market,” Mr Wree told Agrimoney.com.
Already, brewers needing to pay up to Ј3 a tonne extra for grain of the specification required.
It was at least consolation that users have strong UK supplies to choose from, with the spring barley harvest coming in at yields well ahead of the average of 5.4 tonnes per hectare, and with much of the crop seen as likely to make malting grade.
Consultancy Adas earlier this month, with harvest entering the final stages, said that crop had been coming off at a yield of 6.0-6.3 tonnes per hectare.
Mr Wree said that Evergrain – which had pegged UK malting barley supplies at 1.73m tonnes, giving an exportable surplus of 311,000 tonnes – may review its estimates.
Some market talk has suggested a surplus of more than 500,000 tonnes, which would on Evergrain estimates surpass that even of 2013-14, when a poor UK autumn sowings season led to unusually large sowings of spring barley.
Indeed, the harvest results appear to reflect the use of improved seed which offers higher yield, but often at a cost to nitrogen levels, he said.
The HGCA added that, on wheat, its updated research had shown specifications not as high as previously thought, with specific weight now seen a little below average, and protein, at 11.3%, down 0.4% from the previous estimate and well below the typical 12.0%.
“The average protein content remains the limiting factor in meeting milling specifications,” Dr Purewal said.
Although millers can boost protein through blending in better quality wheat, or adding gluten, “there are some technical limitations with adding extra gluten, depending on the end-use”, he said.
Wheat quality has come particularly under the microscope this year, with an unusually low quality crop in much of continental Europe, including France, and the CWB warning of a “major concern” over specifications for Canada’s crop too.
(Source – http://www.blackseagrain.net/novosti/uk-barley-crop-better-for-distillers-than-brewers)