October 27, 2011

2011 Barley crop report

A post on alerted me to the state of the 2011 malting barley harvest and prompted me to do some more digging.
The American Malting Barley Association issued a report in September citing an alarming drop in the 2011 harvest. The 2011 crop year is predicted to produce 115,050,000 bushels, this is down 14% from the 2010 harvest (180,268,000 bushels) and down approximately 18% from the 2009 harvest (227,323,000 bushels).  These are the lowest harvest/ production levels since 1936. Additionally the planted acreage in the 2011 crop year was 2,559,000 acres, this is down from 2,872,000 acres in 2010.
Barley is an important crop for the U.S. From 2000-2009 the barley growing industry employed 1,885,175 people and contributed $25,029,000.00 to state and local taxes.
As the chart shows the use of most of the domestic barley crop goes towards the beer industry, however, a significant portion of the crop goes towards feed for livestock. The beer/ brewing industry generates many billions of tax dollars and pays several billion dollars in wages as the chart below shows.

The money invested in planting malting and brewing with domestic barley keeps money in the U.S economy. A shortage of barley will drive up the cost of malt for many small brewers, potentially exponentially.(Anhauser-Busch/ INBev as well as SABMiller own their own malt houses) These small brewers are generally running on lower margins than the mega milti-national brewers and in many cases rely on lower prices for raw materials to male payroll.
During the hop shortage of 2006-2007 brewers were able to make substitutions for the hops they were unable to source, however if malts are too expensive for small brewers to source they are unlikely to make substitutions to other sources to fermentable material. Perhaps these brewers will produce foreign produced malt from Canada or even China, draining money from the U.S economy.
Any way you cut it the decrease in production of malting barley needs to stop, brewers large and small rely on malt to make their product. If less barley is available the largest brewers will undoubtedly receive their raw and malted barley first spelling nothing but trouble for the smallest of breweries.

No comments:

Post a Comment