Asahi Beverages brews beer with traceable Australian barley

Australia’s largest brewery in Yatala, Queensland, owned by Asahi Beverages through Carlton & United Breweries, now brews beer with barley dating back to its original farm, as part of ‘a new agreement with Australian producers.

The deal means Queensland beer lovers can enjoy a VB, Carlton Dry or Pure Blonde knowing that it has been brewed entirely with barley sourced directly from select New South Wales farmers.

In the old model, farmers sold their grains to bulk handlers who stored them all together, meaning the barley used for brewing potentially came from hundreds of different farms.

Asahi Beverages has now removed bulk handlers from the barley supply chain, allowing brewers to work directly with producers to select and perfect types of barley.

The move means Asahi Beverages will now buy up to 40,000 tonnes of barley directly from NSW each year to supply the Yatala Brewery.

The direct purchase agreement allowed Asahi Beverages to trace its grain back to the farm where it was grown, said Garry Menz, director of the Yatala brewery.

“Our brewing team can now track barley from farms in NSW while ensuring that farmers receive additional payments that otherwise would have gone to bulk handlers,” Menz said.

“This allows Asahi to secure a direct supply chain for one of our most important ingredients and allows us to monitor the performance of barley. We can monitor agricultural processes and our long-term commitment gives every producer the confidence and financial security to invest in new technologies and improve the sustainability and efficiency of agriculture. It’s collaborative culture and food production at their best.

Seven New South Wales farmers have joined the program, with more expected to join next year.

North Star farmer Andrew Ostwald has signed up and his barley is now destined for use in one of Australia’s most popular beers.

“The barley from my property will be used to brew the Victoria Bitter which is enjoyed throughout Queensland and beyond,” said Ostwald.

“The possibility of making a direct deal with a brewing giant like Asahi Beverages is a huge advantage for Australian barley producers. By simply removing a layer between the producer and the brewer, we can then invest the financial gain in the long term partnership with Asahi.

“We are now in a unique position to enable and plan for technology, machine and people upgrades. This deal puts producers back in the driver’s seat, allowing us to do what we do best: grow quality barley! You can guess what beer I have in the fridge now! he said.

The new agreement includes monitoring of agricultural inputs such as water use to help Asahi Beverages meet its sustainability goals. It also works with Victorian Farmers at the Abbotsford Brewery in Melbourne, with over 90 percent of Asahi Beverages’ barley now sourced directly from Australian farmers. There are also plans to expand the program to smaller breweries in Asahi Beverages, such as Cascade in Hobart.

PURE Grain Network supply chain managers will support Asahi Beverages in the implementation of the new program at Yatala Brewery.

“Our relationship across the farmer, maltster and brewer brewing industry is unique within the Australian grain industry,” said Stuart Tighe, CEO of PURE Grain Network.

“An agreement like this creates a more resilient farming process. By working with Asahi Beverages, we can improve agricultural productivity and reduce environmental impacts. It is a major boost for the regional communities in which our producers operate.

“It’s a win-win. Grain farmers are getting the extra income that would otherwise have gone to bulk handlers and Asahi Beverages has a clear vision of the growth process to ensure that only the best sustainably grown barley is used.

Barley is one of the four key ingredients needed to make beer and influences its taste, color, aroma and foam.

“It’s the heart and soul of beer,” Menz said.

“Every time you turn the cap on a VB, we want Australians to think of growers like Andrew and raise a glass to all Australian barley growers.”

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