A worldwide context of increasingly scarce malting barley

Overall production of malting barley is decreasing worldwide and is concentrated in certain geographical zones. Barley is in competition with other cereal grains in a context of worldwide demographic growth and increasing needs for cereal grains to feed a population of 9 billion in 2050. One billion additional tons of grains will have to be produced by 2050 to meet nutritional needs.

In this context of competition for allocation of arable land and with barley yields stable compared to other cereal grains (corn in particular), it is imperative to organize the availability of barley for the long term and increase malting-barley crop yields.

It is clear that a phenomenon of conversion of barley growing areas towards other crops is under way, since barley growing areas have been reduced by 24 million hectares worldwide over the past 20 years, from 73 million hectares in 1994 to 49 million in 2014. This reduction in areas obviously results in a drop in production, and consequently reduces the potential amounts of barley that can be selected as malting barley.

In parallel, the demand for malting barley increased by 9 million tons over this same period, from 17 to 26 million tons annually.

We are also witnessing a geographical imbalance between supply and demand, since strong growth in beer consumption in certain zones is not accompanied by growth in barley production in the same regions.

Finally, climatic vagaries have a growing impact on the quality of malting barley, which remains a highly technical cereal grain that is sensitive to fluctuations in climate.

Therefore it is of strategic importance for the industry to secure malting barley production — in quantity and in quality — while ensuring the flow from production zones toward consumption zones.