Australians are known for a healthy love of beer, but we’re being dwarfed by China when it comes to having a cold one (or a cold several billion).
China’s thirst for beer – and the barley that helps make it – shows no signs of being quenched any time soon. China is Australia’s largest market for barley by far, taking 4.2 million tonnes worth $1.2 billion each year*. Australian barley is used in the premium brewing sector and is also increasingly in demand for animal feed.
To support this crucial market, AEGIC and Barley Australia hosted two Australian Barley Technical Workshops in Guangzhou and Beijing in May, in collaboration with Austrade, CSIRO, SeedNet, InterGrain and Australian grain grower Andrew Weidemann.
AEGIC Barley Markets Manager Mary Raynes said the workshops were attended by over 160 representatives of major brewing companies, members of the livestock industry, and maltsters and traders.
“There was an overwhelming response to the workshops with a range of diverse interests taking part,” she said.
“Chinese brewing companies are campaigning heavily on beer promotion, with the total volume of beer sold in China reaching 45.6 billion litres in 2016. This equates to 138 billion 330ml beers, so it’s clear that this market is a very important one for Australia.
“Premium malting barley for brewing is where the best prices are, however feed barley has a larger export volume and this sector is showing strong growth.
“Increasing technical understanding of the production, accreditation and processing of Australian barley for malting and animal feed helps enhance the value of Australian barley. These events help maintain and enhance the relationship between the Australian barley industry and key players in the Chinese brewing industry.”
At each of the two workshops, Ms Raynes gave attendees an overview of the Australian barley industry, followed by Barley Australia CEO Dr Megan Sheehy with an explanation of the Australian barley accreditation system.
National Manager of SeedNet Simon Crane gave a technical overview of the benefits of new malting variety Compass, which was accredited this year along with Spartacus.
InterGrain Barley Breeder David Moody was on hand to explain the benefits of Spartacus and also introduced upcoming variety Banks.
The CSIRO’s Dr Crispin Howitt gave an interesting presentation on gluten free barley, while grower Andrew Weidemann – who is also Chairman of Grain Producers Australia – presented a grower’s perspective on farming malting barley for export markets.
AEGIC consultant Brenton Hosking gave attendees a technical overview of the benefits of using Australian barley in pig feed formulations.
Ms Rayne said the panel session gained the most interaction, with topics covering beer flavour, barley protein and barley varieties.
A celebratory tipple with Australian beers rounded out the day.
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* Four year average up to 2016-17 (ABS).
Note: this includes 2016-17 which was significantly higher than average after a bumper Australian crop (previous four year average to 2016: $970 million / 3.1 million tonnes).