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The war in Ukraine and the fact that Russia and Ukraine account for 30% of the world’s wheat supply means there has been a lot of press coverage about global commodity prices. As a result, we’ve had a lot of questions from customers about the potential impact on malting barley prices throughout the 2022 supply year.

We hope that sharing the following about what we know – and indeed what we don’t know – is helpful to you in your planning for this year and next.

Whereas some malting companies buy on the spot market throughout the year, at Crisp we agree on the vast majority of our barley prices at or before harvest. While we don’t get the opportunity to capitalise on lower spot market prices, we get something we see as more valuable: security, consistency and quality.

We work extremely closely with our farming groups and merchant partners in England and Scotland. The relationships have been built over many years – starting with the formation of the ABC Grower Group nearly 20 years ago – and are mutually beneficial. They supply us with the very best grain that any land can produce and we pay a fair price.

This allows us to control quality and consistency from the moment the barley leaves the fields. We can dry the grain, then secure it in our stores on site or within the local area. This way, we can be sure the barley is in optimal condition for malting – and that in turn, you will receive the malt in optimal condition for brewing or distilling.

The different purchasing strategies adopted by maltsters have their pros and cons but with our model, we can say that quality is assured and that the malt price throughout the supply year will not change. In this year especially, we hope this is of great reassurance to you.

Last year, as you are no doubt only too aware, energy prices began to climb rapidly. So, in November, as part of the aim to control our costs and to steady pricing as much as possible, we pre-purchased our energy for 2022 before the start of the year.

These two measures have de-risked the largest parts of our cost model. As such, we don’t anticipate any changes to our pricing throughout the supply year.

We have never varied our pricing in the middle of the year and very much hope to be able to continue this undertaking through these unprecedented times.

Looking forward to 2023 makes for more sober reading. At present, the wheat futures market (which is often used as a reference point for malting barley pricing) is currently up over £80 per tonne since harvest which represents an increase of over £100 per tonne in the price of malt.

Malting barley and wheat market update | Crisp Malt 2022

Energy markets remain extremely volatile and although prices have eased back from the recent highs, they are still around the levels seen at the end of last year and significantly higher than 2020. Find out more, download our malt barley and wheat pricing diagram.

This information is not intended to cause alarm; more to help in planning.  In preparing for the worst-case scenario, you can also be first at the starting block for the best-case scenario, and a fleet of foot when opportunities arise.  Forewarned is forearmed. A lot can change throughout the growing season and so we will be watching the fields closely. A good crop can help mitigate some of these global effects.

April Crop Update | Crisp Malt 2022

The important thing is for you to ensure we know how much malt you are expecting to use this year.  We can then put this into our production schedules and set it aside for you. For bulk contracts and long-term agreements, keep in touch with us regularly throughout the growing season, so we can update you on the latest market conditions.

Regarding this year’s crop, our Commercial Director Bob King reports:

Winter malting barley (Maris Otter, Flagon, Craft) have come through the winter very well and looks to have good potential. However, the area planted to winter malting barley has continued the reducing trend of the past few years. Consequently, the available supply from the 2022 harvest is likely to be lower than from last year’s harvest  – whilst demand is increasing.

Spring malting barley planting is now happening throughout UK in, what are for most growers, near perfect conditions. Soil moisture levels are ok, but early April rainfall will be needed to get the crops moving. The area planted to spring barley will also be lower than last year, reflecting the higher plantings of wheat and oilseed rape last autumn.

The market for crop 2022 malting barley is virtually non-existent, as farmers hold off in the hope of higher prices, while buyers think prices are too high and expect them to ease back! Where prices go from here will depend on the wider world grain market and the actual harvest quantity/quality.

There is no surplus from the world’s 2021 malting barley crops to carry into 2022. This means any crop issues in any of the major malting barley producing regions (UK+EU, Canada, Australia, Argentina) will result in a shortfall against world demand.

Keep an eye out on here and our social channels for future crop updates.

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