Beer supply chain should be strengthened

25 November 2011

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26 November 2011 | Adam Leach

Stimulating growth in the beer supply chain by investing in grain research and cutting red tape could help to grow the UK economy, according to a report.

Grain to Glass, published this week by the National Farmers' Union (NFU) and the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), called for an increase in publicly funded research into growing grains such as hops and barley. The groups made the call in order to keep farming the grains a “competitive option for British growers” as part of a campaign to stimulate a “renewed focus” on local sourcing.

Ralph Findlay, chairman of the BBPA, said: “It’s in all our interests, not just farmers, brewers and publicans, but anyone who cares about this country’s economy, or loves the British countryside and a glass of beer, that we sustain the grain to glass supply chain, and everything that depends on it.”

The report also called for changes to the regulatory environment, by reducing the number of regulators and a clearer understanding of the sector’s specific needs. It called for: “Fewer regulators with, between them, a better understanding of agriculture.”

If the reforms are implemented BBPA and the NFU believe they will stimulate economic growth right through the supply chain from farmers to pubs.

Explaining the significance of the sector’s contribution to the UK economy, the report said in 2009 cereal farming contributed around £1 billion while processing contributed £5.2 billion.

A selection of case studies accompanying the report highlighted some of the ways in which buyers and suppliers in the beer supply chain are working together. Edinburgh-based Caledonian brewery is paying above market rates for malted barley in order to support local farms. Charles Wells in Bedfordshire became the first brewery to be awarded the Red Tractor stamp to recognise that it uses 100 per cent farm-assured barley in its brewing process. While, Shepherd Neame has contributed to the local economy by sourcing 95 per cent of its hop supplies from farms in Kent.

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