Asahi Beverages' Yatala brewery sources barley directly from farmers

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

North Star farmer Andrew Ostwald. Pic:Asahi
North Star farmer Andrew Ostwald. Pic:Asahi

Related tags Barley Beer Carlton & United Asahi

Australia’s largest brewery at Yatala, Queensland is now brewing beer with barley traceable back to its farm of origin.

Under the old model, farmers sold their grain to bulk handlers who stored it all together, meaning the barley used for brewing was potentially from hundreds of different farms.

But Asahi Beverages, which owns Carlton & United Breweries, has now removed the bulk handlers from the barley supply chain: instead working with New South Wales growers to select and perfect barley types.

Direct supply chain

The Yatala brewery produces beers including VB, Carlton Dry and Pure Blonde. The new deal means Asahi Beverages will now buy up to 40,000 tonnes of barley direct from NSW every year to supply the brewery.

“Our brewing team can now track the barley from NSW farms while ensuring farmers get additional payments that otherwise would have gone to the bulk handlers,”​ said Yatala Brewing Manager Garry Menz. “This allows Asahi to secure a direct supply chain for one of our most important ingredients and allows us to trace how the barley will perform.

“We can monitor farming processes and our long-term commitment gives each grower the confidence and financial security to invest in new technology and make improvements in farming sustainability and efficiency. This is collaborative cultivation and food production at its best.”

Seven NSW farmers have joined the program so far, with more expected to join next year.

One is North Star farmer Andrew Ostwald, who said: “The opportunity to tap into a direct deal with a brewing giant such as Asahi Beverages is an enormous leg up for Australian barley growers. By simply removing a layer between the grower and the brewer we can then invest the financial gain into the long-term partnership with Asahi. We’re now in the unique position to afford and plan upgrades to technology, machinery and people.”

The new deal includes monitoring of agricultural inputs such as water usage to help Asahi Beverages achieve its sustainability targets. It is also running with Victorian farmers at the Abbotsford Brewery in Melbourne, with more than 90% of Asahi Beverages’ barley now purchased direct from Australian farmers.

There are also plans to expand the program to Asahi Beverages’ smaller breweries such as Cascade in Hobart. Supply chain managers PURE Grain Network will support Asahi Beverages in delivering the new program at the Yatala Brewery.

Barley is one of four key ingredients needed to make beer, and influences its taste, color, aroma and foam. In Australia, barley is second in crop size only to wheat, covering almost 4 million hectares.

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