Holy smokes, that’s one malty milk ball factoid! In an article recently released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), it was revealed that the demand for barley in craft beer is three to seven times that of the Big Beer, non-craft beer requirements. What does that mean for barley growers? It’s time to ratchet up production. From the article:
Applying the Brewers Association Benchmarking Survey estimate of per barrel malt and malt product needs to craft production implies total craft demand of 1.051 billion pounds of malt and malt products in 2013. Subtracting this figure from total reported malt and malt products and dividing by numbers of noncraft barrels produced implies noncraft use for 2013 of 16.47 pounds per barrel, or rather, craft needs are approximately 4.17 times noncraft usage.
The article released by the USDA, entitled Boutique Brews, Barley, and the Balance Sheet: Changes in malt barley industrial use require an updated forecasting approach, reports that the increased need for barley calls for a reexamination of barley use estimations. In layman’s terms: Craft beer is using a ton of barley and the old ways of determining how much barley is needed for each major segment—beer brewing, spirits sector, homebrewing, food and seed use, and exports—needs updated to reflect the increased demand.
The good news is that, according to the USDA, the outlook is not yet wholly negative. There’s still time to change the barley estimation methods to meet demand. But, it only takes one bad crop (and we’ve already run into two in a row) or a barley doomsday scenario to send barley production into the red. Be sure to read the full USDA report (PDF) and click here to check out all our barley coverage.