Grain growers renew calls for pint price drop as protest set to reach Guinness HQ

A protest by the Irish Grain Growers Group (IGGG) is set to take place tomorrow (Tuesday, November 14) at 12:00pm outside St. Jame’s Gate in Dublin.

The IGGG has also renewed its calls for the price of a pint to be cut by 10c.

It is understood that the group is “stepping up” its campaign in order to “highlight the current challenges facing traditional malting barley growers and indeed the tillage sector as a whole”.

Also Read: Is malting barley expansion really a good news story?

Last month the group staged a demonstration of facts outside of Boortmalt, Athy, Co. Kildare.

Almost 80 grain growers marched in front of the Boortmalt premises to show their frustration at the harvest malting barley price of €154.80/t.

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A recent demonstration of facts took place outside Boortmalt buildings in Athy, Co. Kildare

The decision to protest outside the gates of Guinness is due to receiving no reply from the group’s correspondence to Boortmalt and its farmer-owned parent company Axereal, the IGGG explained.

Commenting on the protest, the group said: “Indeed we were thoroughly dismayed with the Diageo/Guinness response to the situation, in which they effectively washed their hands of the current crisis by saying that they have no direct dealings with farmers and they carry out their purchasing of malted barley with Boortmalt.

They even said that they do not set the price of the pint in the pubs when we suggested that the price of the pint should drop by at least 10c due to the poor price of malting barley.

“We are sure many publicans would have an opinion on that. We are repeating our call to have the price of the pint dropped by at least 10c for customers.”

In a statement, the IGGG claimed that Diageo “effectively sets the price for malting barley as they buy most of the malt from Boortmalt”.

“They have huge buying power in the relationship and are profiting on the back of growers. Indeed, the forward selling part of the current pricing model with Boortmalt applies to barley destined for Diageo.

“As this share of contracted barley was 70% in 2017, it is clear that Diageo’s claim that is has no role whatsoever in negotiations regarding the price of malting barley is disingenuous at best,” the statement added.

Damaging the brand

The group also took the opportunity to quote the Guinness website, saying: “It begins with barley. Barley sown in Irish soil and malted behind our famous gates. It’s not an easy grain to grow, which is why we have relationships with farmers that span three generations.”

It would be a national scandal that the raw materials would have to be imported, according to the IGGG.

Commenting further, the group added: “This is the reality that Diageo/Guinness are facing. They must realise that it is not 1759 in terms of time, but high noon for malting barley growers.

The relationship and history between traditional Irish malting barley growers and Guinness would be lost, a key marketing tool used by Diageo at present in the Guinness Storehouse and in advertising campaigns. The damage to brand Ireland would be incalculable.

“We are heading to the Guinness Storehouse – the biggest tourist destination in Ireland – where we, Irish farmers, are used as part of the story of Guinness. We will be handing in letters to be given to Guinness/Diageo staff.”

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