Budweiser has introduced a new barley variety to the UK to help meet its goal of sourcing 100% of its barley from British farmers.
Budweiser UK and Ireland worked with agronomy, grain trading and malting partners to introduce the ‘Explorer’ variety, which meets the specifications needed to brew its recipe, to the UK.
Prior to 2014, Budweiser, which also produces Stella Artois and Corona, imported all of the barley used at its two breweries in Magor, South Wales and Samlesbury, Lancashire because “unique properties required to brew the beer were not available in UK-grown barley”, it said.
The company worked with crop research firm Agrii and grain trading and malting partners, Glencore Agriculture UK, Boortmalt and Crisp Malting Group on the project. The collaboration formed part of its plan to meet its 2025 sustainability goals to improve agricultural practices and reduce carbon emissions.
There are now more than 300 farmers growing Explorer barley for Budweiser in the UK, spanning over 6,000 hectares and producing 40,000 tonnes of barley each year. The grain is used to help Budweiser produce more than 20m bottles and cans of Budweiser each week, the firm said.
Paula Lindenberg, president at Budweiser UK&I, said: “We set ourselves the ambitious goal to source 100% of our barley in Britain. Today, we’re so proud to announce that we’ve reached this goal despite the uncertainties of Covid-19.
"Local communities are the lifeblood of this country, so we’re absolutely committed to supporting them, creating more efficient supply chains, and brewing the UK’s most sustainable beers.”
Lee Robinson, executive director of Seed at Agrii, added: “It won’t come as any surprise that it’s been a tough year for British farming. The Covid-19 outbreak had a huge effect on the supply chain and the unusually wet weather in August significantly impacted harvest.
“There is now undoubtedly more awareness among the public of where the food and drink they consume comes from, which is why it’s so important for British companies like Budweiser Brewing Group to support their local industries.”
Meanwhile, Budweiser’s parent company AB InBev has created a pilot blockchain project to trace barley across the European supply chain.
The platform aims to collect and benchmark data to enable farmers to improve yields and environmental impacts, involving water efficiency and carbon footprints, as well as to provide consumers with end-to-end visibility of the supply chain.
First, the project will connect barley farmers in the north-east of France with one malthouse in Antwerp, Belgium, and the Stella Artois brewery in Leuven, Belgium.
From 2021, customers in France will be able to use a QR code on packs of Belgian beer brand Leffe to see the precise farm where the barley in their beer was grown, reaped and malted.
Erik Novaes, vice president of procurement and sustainability in Europe at AB InBev, said: “Beer is made of simple, natural ingredients: barley, water, hops and yeast, so it’s important that we as a company and our consumers know the ingredients we use are of the highest quality and grown sustainably.
“This new barley blockchain pilot is the latest initiative in our focus on smart agriculture: using new technology, data and insights to improve our farmers’ use of natural resources, crop yields and livelihoods. We’re excited about the potential to bring this project to our European growers, and to show beer drinkers where the barley in their Leffe is from.”