Boortmalt is not ruling out the possibility of further expanding its malting barley facility in Athy, Co Kildare.

Executives from the parent company were in Ireland this month. They were upbeat regarding a growth in demand for malt in Ireland.

This would be generated by the growing presence of craft brewing businesses in the country plus the scope that exists to further expand Ireland’s distilling sector.

It is now recognised that distilling is very insulated from downturns in the international economy.

Expansion at Boortmalt

A programme to expand the Athy plant’s annual capacity was completed in 2017. However, the possibility of a further 30,000t in its malting throughput could be on the cards, assuming market conditions remain buoyant.

Such a development would be reflected in an expansion of the malting barley acreage grown in Ireland.

Boortmalt has said that is committed to further supporting the malting barley industry at farm level, with the overall aim of providing its growers with the means of generating the highest margins within the cereal sector.

Executives within the business point to the net margins recently published for all the cereal crop options grown in Ireland as confirmation that the strategic approach taken by Boortmalt in this regard is working.

Malting barley

The latest Teagasc figures confirm that spring malting barley and winter wheat are vying with each other as the number one ‘net margin’ cereal crop grown in Ireland this year.

Significantly, Boortmalt executives are not linking the ‘margin over feed’ bonus that they pay as being the key factor responsible for the strengthening success of the crop at farm levels.

Rather, they point to the much lower rejection rates within barley crops submitted to Athy as being the issue that is delivering improved returns for farmers.

Looking to the future, Boortmalt wants to put in place a much more transparent pricing structure for growers, one that is more closely linked to European and international markets.

Boortmalt said it is also conscious of the fast changing priorities of the tillage sector and, specifically, the need for arable soils to sequester higher levels of carbon than is currently the case.

The company has acknowledged the impact that such developments might have on barley protein levels in the years ahead.

Given this scenario, the company said it will have no option but to take a more flexible approach, where future protein specifications are concerned.