Leading UK spring malting barley sees increased European interest

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Grain from leading UK spring malting barley variety, Laureate, which has largely only traded within the nation until now has seen increased interest from European malting markets.

The high-yielding spring barley, which has full approval for brewing and malt distilling, was the most widely grown spring malting barley in Scotland and England during harvest 2023, and the most purchased variety by maltsters with contracts available in the UK.

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Tracy Creasy, cereals asset manager for Europe North for the variety’s breeder, Syngenta, says alongside its reputation for a consistent on-farm performance, exports could boom in 2024 after heavy autumn rain stopped winter wheat drilling.

“The UK was our first focus when developing Laureate, but over recent years European interest in Laureate has blossomed,” Mrs Creasy said. “We’re now at a point where Laureate has approval in two major European malting barley systems: the Danish Preferred System and the Comité Bière Malt Orge (CBMO) in France.”

“Three years ago Laureate wasn’t a dominant variety for export. Now, buyers are asking for it, after it gained these latter two approvals in 2018. If demand continues, it gives UK Laureate growers the potential of four end markets – UK malt distilling, UK brewing, feed, and potentially export to Europe.”

More interest in the variety could also open the doors for farmers in the South of England, Chris Colley, feed and malting barley trader with ADM Agriculture, says.

The closer growers are to ports, the more their businesses could see an increase in sales, especially as the European markets lean more heavily the UK brand. “Laureate has been marketed for export for some time but is starting to win favour with some buyers,” Mr Colley said.

“We have customers who have been asking for Laureate specifically over other varieties. The export market is supply and demand driven. Laureate is still the leading spring barley variety grown on-farm in the UK, so when trading it for export it’s readily available.”

He also notes that exports of malting barley are tariff-free, and ADM has organised boats of Laureate to be shipped to Europe this winter.

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