Report Synopsis

Barley Value Chain

Matt Hamill

Objective: The rise in popularity of all-malt beers has caused shifts and created opportunities in the barley value chain. The speed at which the change has occurred has left a gap in readily available and updated information regarding the barley value chain. The objective of this report is to provide an accurate and concise analysis of the barley value chain in Western Canada as it is today, and then to identify best practices in New Zealand, Australia, the United States of America and Eastern Canada, that can be applied to competitive advantages of the barley value chain in Western Canada. Findings are sorted by stakeholders that come before the maltster (farmers, input suppliers, government), maltsters, stakeholders after the maltster (brewers & marketers), and the value chain as a whole.

Research: To provide a better baseline of understanding, an analysis was done of the malt barley industry in Western Canada. Research included stakeholders, external forces, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. From this, competitive advantages for the following groups were identified:

  • Pre-Maltster: Being situated in Western Canada offers a good supply of high quality barley, existing infrastructure, a supportive government and a growing market.
  • Maltster: Smaller size allows for more homogeneous supply of barley that can be used to make more consistent malt.
  • Post-Maltster: The maltster’s close tie to the farmer provides a compelling, marketable story that resonates with brewers and consumers
  • Whole value chain: The maltster can develop close relationships with all members of the value chain allowing trust to grow and innovation to occur more quickly.

With a better understanding of the industry in Western Canada, and thanks to Nuffield Canada, I was able to start looking around the world to see if there are lessons that we can learn from strategic and operational differences that are being used successfully. The second phase of research summarizes some of the best practices observed while travelling through New Zealand, Australia, the United States of America, and Canada, interviewing members of the barley value chain and other industries that are adding value to primary agricultural products. 

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