The importance of a strong indigenous malting barley industry was highlighted yesterday at an awards ceremony for growers in the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.
The Irish Malting Barley Excellence Awards heard that Diageo is the largest purchaser of malting barley in the country, buying over 10% of the total produce.
Diageo’s agricultural purchases is worth over €250m to the rural economy annually.
Organised by Boortmalt, one of the largest producers of malt in the world, the awards recognise excellence in malting barley production and promote sustainability in the supply chain.
Diageo and Boortmalt jointly hosted the ceremony during which Tom Hayes, the junior agriculture minister, presented William Masterson of Clohamon, Co Wexford, with the overall award.
Mr Hayes acknowledged the commitment of Diageo and Boortmalt to supporting and developing the malting barley sector.
“The future prospects of this sector are very positive, primarily due to increasing global beer consumption and a general fall in the area of malting barley production internationally,” he said.
“It is widely accepted that Irish malt is regarded as being of a very high quality and thus a premium product, mainly due to our favourable growing conditions and the range of spring barley varieties available to our grower.”
Paul Armstrong, supply director at Diageo, said barley is an essential ingredient for its products. “We place a huge emphasis on purchasing locally and ensuring supply chain sustainability.
“We have invested a lot of time and money in ensuring a tight quality control regime around cereal sourcing in Ireland — that is from grain to glass.
“The majority of what we produce here in Ireland is exported to over 150 countries around the world.”
Yvan Schaepman, chief executive of Boortmalt Group, said enormous progress has been made since the arrival of Boortmalt/Axereal in Ireland in Mar 2010.
“We can proudly say today that we have in Ireland a truly world class barley supply chain from seeds to glass, which is a perfect fit for the state of the art new Guinness brewery in Dublin,” he said.
“Everyone has played an important role for that achievement: The Diageo team, the IFA, the Boortmalt team in Ireland, our Axereal agronomists, and, of course, our 600 partner growers.
“It’s only by having a long-term sustainable perspective combined with a passion for continuous improvement that such a strong alignment, between all stakeholders, is being achieved.
“I have never seen this high level malting barley supply chain integration before in other geographies,” he added.
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