Australian barley growers have been given a timely boost in the face of on-going Chinese tariffs, with the news that Asahi has overhauled its supply chain to purchase barley direct from Aussie farmers.
The new supply chain means that local barley will be used to brew Australian beers like Victoria Bitter and Carlton Draught for the first time in decades.
Asahi, which developed the new direct sourcing program after it purchased Carlton & United last year, will now buy more than 70,000 tonnes of malted barley direct from farmers in Victoria and southern NSW to be used at its Yatala and Abbotsford breweries. Growers in northern NSW are expected to join the scheme before this year’s harvest while the first beers brewed under the program will be rolled out in April.
Asahi Beverages’ Group Chief Brewer Jaideep Chandrasekharan said: “Barley malt is the heart and soul of beer and has a defining influence on the taste, colour, aroma and foam. Australian malting barley is of the highest quality and sourcing it direct from farmers is an important change for our national operations and also the dozens of farmers we’ll purchase from.
“Under the old model the grains we purchased generally weren’t segregated but this program allows us to track the provenance of barley used to brew our major beers and gives us direct relationships with more farmers.
“Farmers will grow barley in accordance with our strict quality program, we’ll monitor quality parameters such as protein levels and grain size, and we’ll link on-farm practices to beer quality. We will also track water use and other agricultural inputs to ensure our barley helps us achieve our sustainability targets.
“Until recently, the expertise to develop and maintain an intricate program like this at scale didn’t exist in Australia but we’re now working with supply chain managers Origin Trail and Pure Grain to bring it to life.”
The new supply chain means more than 90 per cent of Asahi Beverages’ barley is purchased direct from farmers in line with its quality and sustainability requirements.
Grain Producers Australia Chairman Andrew Weidemann AM, welcomed the news, saying: “Barley farmers have faced many challenges in recent years so it’s fantastic to see a program like this launch.
“With Asahi Beverages’ knowledge and experience, the program will help ensure crops are grown sustainability and that farmers can grow new varieties that can open up more international markets for them, which is particularly timely. Aussie farmers have always been proud to grow the produce that goes into Australia’s iconic beers but this direct connection makes this even better.
“Cheers to Asahi Beverages for launching it.”
Farmer John Bennett, whose barley farm in Victoria’s West Wimmera is now supplying Asahi Beverages direct, added: “The new program connects our farm directly with Asahi Beverages. This relationship gives us a better understanding of their stringent quality parameters and ensures we provide the highest-quality barley for their brewing process. Buying barley direct not only benefits farmers, but the communities we live in too.”