Idaho has more than 5,000 barley producers, and the USDA projects Idaho’s 2013 barley crop will lead the nation at 57 million bushels. Idaho barley producers have a long history of supplying top-quality malting barley to the state’s three malting facilities with customers all over the United States and all over the world. While Anheuser-Busch InBev is the single largest buyer of Idaho malting barley and seed today, many craft breweries are turning to the state’s barley resources for quality grain.
Last week (Sept. 25-26), a trade team representing Mexican breweries, including the first ambassador to Idaho representing the growing Mexican craft beer industry, made a stop in eastern Idaho to talk with the Idaho Barley Commission (IBC). The IBC is a self-governing agency of the State of Idaho that serves to enhance the profitability of the Idaho barley growers through research, market development, promotion, information and education. We quote a stellar story from Capital Press:
“We for the first time had representatives from the craft beer segment in Mexico, which is small but growing like it is in the U.S.,” said Idaho Barley Commission Administrator Kelly Olson. “They’re trying to figure out what it would take to get barley from this region.”
Jose Ruiz is the manager of MI CerveSA and the representative with the Craft Brewers Association in Mexico that met with the IBC. According to Ruiz, craft breweries in Mexico have grown from some 20 five years ago to almost 100 now. Also, Mexico will have an excess of barley production this season, but much of that grain won’t meet industry specifications.
In the long term, [Julio] Hernandez [country director of the Mexico/U.S. Grains Council] believes barley from Idaho and other major U.S. production states will become increasingly important for Mexican breweries as disposable income continues to rise in Mexico, leading to increased beer consumption. “The industry is growing in Mexico, and in the case of craft beer, which is a very interesting dynamic in Mexico, it’s growing very fast,” Hernandez said.